kathryne goes to france

20 May 2007, 5:40 am
Filed under: bordeaux, europe, exchange student, france, photos

I uploaded new pictures today. A lot of them are of flowers because everything’s in bloom here in Bordeaux.

There are also several pictures from our one-day excursion to Arcachon, a beach/town nearby.


19 May 2007, 7:31 am
Filed under: bordeaux, europe, exchange student, france, french culture

In all fairness, I should say that the stereotype that the French are smelly is largely untrue. There are, however, several with B.O. issues, and the problem is that when you find one who stinks, he really stinks. Tram rides next to a stinky one are the worst, because there’s nowhere for your nose to go when the trams are crowded, and you’re stuck, in a confined space, next to Stinky. I think France should consider broadcasting public service announcements on the necessity of deodorant.

Seriously, it’s only getting hotter outside. J’ai peur.

6 May 2007, 11:50 am
Filed under: bordeaux, europe, exchange student, france, french culture, study abroad

The other day on the tram, a little French boy asked Mandi, in English, “What languages can you speak?”

His mother speaks French, English, Spanish, and a little German.

My mother speaks English.

He speaks French and broken but understandable English.

My brothers speak English.

I think it’s so interesting that even little Europeans expect everyone to speak more than one language.  Kids in the United States don’t ask questions like that.  It’s generally presumed, and rightly so, that we speak English and not much else.  The question doesn’t cross their minds because we don’t think about language much in the U.S.  Why would we, if all we hear everywhere we go is English?

le christ vivant!
8 April 2007, 11:17 am
Filed under: bordeaux, europe, france, french culture, photos, study abroad

Today we went to an Easter service at la Cathédrale Saint André de Bordeaux. I’ve only been to a couple of catholic church services in the U.S., but I could tell that the format was the same. French hymns sound kind of funny. It takes more more syllables to say something in French than it does in English, so the lines sounded rushed even though the tempo was the same as it is at home. I liked that the service was in French. Even when I couldn’t understand all the words, I could tell what they were saying based on the context. Easter services are pretty standard no matter where you are.

On one hand, the service seemed totally normal. A baby cried, a cell phone went off, and an old lady sang too loud. Some people were dressed up and some were in jeans. The church officials collected an offering and gave communion, and we recited the Lord’s prayer. On the other hand, I was sitting in a cathedral with light streaming through stained glass windows as music played from a huge organ behind us. The interior of the church was cold, not because the air conditioning was turned up too high, but because we were in a huge stone building without a heater.

Toto, we’re not in Kansas anymore.

Wine and Cheese
8 April 2007, 11:12 am
Filed under: bordeaux, exchange student, france, french culture, photos, study abroad, travel

We took a wine tour yesterday through the Chartrons district and the Médoc region. We got to see the whole wine-making process, from the vineyards to the vats to the barrels to the bottles. We went to Château Aney first and then Châteaux Kirwan. Fields were everywhere in Médoc; it reminded me of driving by the wheat fields in Oklahoma. The vineyards looked like weird cemeteries for tree roots. None of the plants are growing grapes yet, and they’re all shaped sort of like the horns on a steer. That’s the only way I can describe them… just look at the pictures. When I get home I can go buy bottles of wine from the vineyards I saw yesterday. How cool is that?!

In between the tour of Chartrons and Médoc, we ate lunch at a French restaurant. For an appetizer, we were served a concoction of sliced chevre cheese in a hot melted cheese/cream dip. I’m not crazy about chevre (goat cheese), but it was stomachable. Our meal was supposed to be roasted duck with potatoes, but I like ducks way too much to eat one, so I got a smoked salmon salad instead. Sick. After the main course, we went into the cold, damp cheese cellar downstairs. There was literally water dripping from the middle of the ceiling. Apparently this is where cheese likes to live, but I grabbed bits of cheese from random plates and got out of there asap. Some of the cheese was okay, but none of it actually tasted good. Dessert was plum pie (yum) with espresso (highly recommended). Overall, the lunch was a good experience, but I think my taste buds are still traumatized. I’ll be sticking to bread, wine, and crêpes from now on.

Random things I learned yesterday:

•The proper way to taste wine goes like this: look, sniff, swirl, sniff again, taste.
•In the past, wine was produced by wine merchants rather than individual vineyards.
•Wine merchants are still around, and they buy wine from 1+ vineyards in a particular region and mix them together before aging/bottling the wine themselves. •You can tell these wines are from merchants because the label doesn’t say “Mis en bouteille par (vineyard name).”
•The Bordeaux region produces red, white, rose and sparkling wine.
•It’s split up into three regions, the Northern bank (North of the rivers), the Southern bank, and entre deux mers (between the two rivers).
•Each region produces different types of wine depending on the soil present. I guess that’s why in France, wines are classified by region (Bordeaux, St. Emillion) rather than type (merlot, cabernet sauvignon).
•Storage barrels have a huge effect on the way the wine tastes after it ages. The type of wood matters, as well as how long the insides of the barrel are burned (toasted?) during construction.
•The room where they store the wine in barrels smells like old grapes. I don’t know why this was surprising.
•French college students can major in wine tasting. Our tour guide did.
•Merlot is good. Cabernet sauvignon is not.

And that’s about all I want to know about wine.

Carnivals, Cotton Candy, and Ferris Wheels, oh my!
16 March 2007, 5:23 am
Filed under: bordeaux, europe, exchange student, france, paris, photos, study abroad


Originally uploaded by ms.kdizz.

New pictures today.

It’s strange.  Now that daylight savings time cut the time difference between Bordeaux and Oklahoma by an hour, I feel a little closer to everyone at home.  Funny how going from a seven hours apart to six hours can make a difference.

lundi perfection
12 March 2007, 7:34 am
Filed under: bordeaux, college, europe, exchange student, france, study abroad

The weather in Bordeaux today is perfection.  Sunny, slight breeze, not a cloud in the sky, mid-60s, couldn’t be better.

I love Mondays.  I only have three hours of class to sit through—two of which are spent in a class that’s actually interesting (littérature moderne) while the remaining time is spent with a silly French phonetics teacher.  I’m done by 12:30 and then I have the rest of the afternoon to play.

I wish Tuesday through Thursday would take notice and somehow, miraculously, follow suit and become Mondays as well.