Sophia's Monde

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

La Fin

I'm back in the United States as of last Thursday, and before leaving for Israel this Thursday I wanted to write one final entry to round off this blog. If I make it back to Europe (either for an internship or grad school) I may very well start up a new one, but for now it is time for Sophia's Monde to come to a close and for Sophia's Normal World to resume, though what that world is at the moment is a bit unclear.

After my April vacation, I only had a matter of a couple weeks left in France. My last weekend, Danae, Barbara, Nicolas, Marcelo and I went to a nearby island called Île-de-Bréhat, which I really wanted to see before going because I had heard many times it was beautiful. Unfortunately we didn't have great weather for most of the day but we still had fun exploring the island, even in the rain.

I also wrapped up my last few days of teaching, which was fun because with all the classes I planned a game and stayed with the whole class. Of course in my last 3 days at the school I didn't end up having 3 of my classes, so my experience teaching ended the same way it began. Here are pictures of me with some of my classes:

Sunday night before I left, I went out for dinner and drinks with a few of the girls from my basketball team. I hadn't played in a while because of my ankle and then vacation, so it was nice to see some of them before leaving.

Monday nights were always our big dinner party nights because Celine was there and Nicolas would come over, and my last night in Lannion happened to fall on a Monday, so we got to have one last dinner all together which was really nice, but also bittersweet as evidenced in the 3rd picture.

Tuesday afternoon I said goodbye to Lannion and took the train to Paris to spend that evening and Wednesday with the Arribard's before flying back to the US on Thursday.

I feel as though I am supposed to end this blog with something extremely thoughtful and insightful or at least conclusive of my 8 months in France. I'm not exactly sure how to go about that, but what I can say is that I am extremely pleased with my time there, all the experiences I had, the travel I was able to do, and over everything else, the people I met. I will not necessarily miss Lannion as a town, except for the memories now attached to it. Lannion was a small town, not exactly exciting, and not somewhere I would have wanted to keep living for much longer. It did have it perks though, it wasn't especially expensive, the market was great, as well as the proximity to the beach. I did enjoy living in Bretagne, exploring different sections of the region, learning about their specific culture, their food, etc. I won't necessarily miss the school, either. While I loved many of my students, the program at my school was not extremely well organized and while easy, it wasn't an ideal working situation. However I was very lucky to be able to go to Paris and Ireland with some of the students, and I can thank my great responsable for that. He and the other teachers in Ireland were fantastic. My friends are what I will really miss. We were lucky in Lannion to have a great group of assistants, and I grew especially close to Barbara and Danae (and of course Steffi, who left much earlier). Also, thanks to our low-key work situation, we got to do a lot and spend a lot of time together. My favorite memories are simple ones- cooking dinner and eating together, going jogging, having a coffee in a cafe, walking through town, hanging out in the teacher's lounge. As I've said before, I always find it much more difficult to leave such a program than to leave home to live abroad. We will never be in this situation again, where we are all living and working together, and that's what makes it so hard to leave. But I am so happy and feel so incredibly lucky to have made such great friends, and will never forget my time in France, in Lannion, in my Monde.


Sunday, May 4, 2008

April Vacation Part II


After my Eastern Europe extravaganza with Jess, I flew over to Stuttgart. I already wrote a bit about Tübingen, so in an effort not to be too redundant and not to waste any of my remaining time in this country (of which there is precious little- 4 days and counting), here are the rest of my pictures from the trip.

Dinner party:

Ellen and I before hitting the town (which means taking the bus to El Chico):

The original 4 at El Chico:

Sushi dinner in Reutlingen:

The Marktplatz:

Luca and I made tiramisu for David's birthday:

Giovanni getting the royal treatment:

Typical hanging out in the kitchen:

Typical hanging out in Ellen's room:

Friday morning I took the train to Stuttgart, then the train to Paris, and then the train to Soissons where Yohannes picked me up to take me back to his little village, Coucy-le-Chateau. I had to get off at Soissons because Coucy is so small that they no longer have a train station, and on top of that, Yohannes' family's house IS the old train station that the town used to have. Friday night we cooked dinner and hung out, nothing too crazy as I was tired after my day of travel. The next day, we took a day trip out to another town to see the very impressive Château de Pierrefonds, and that evening we went out to a dinner with a large group of Yohannes' old high school friends.

The house/former train station:


Château de Pierrefonds:


Our tour guide told us that this cat entered the Chateau 15 years ago, and some believe it be a reincarnation of Violette-le-Duc, the famous architect who reconstructed the castle. It is said that he was a big fan of cats, and on the castle there are supposedly 30 feline related constructions/symbols. I pet him!


I certainly stretched out this 2 week vacation as far as I could, and am very happy I was able to see all the people I did before heading back home.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Vienna, Budapest, and Prague


I started out my vacation in Vienna where Jess is studying abroad this year. She and I spent a couple days there before leaving for a week in Budapest and Prague and then I flew to Stuttgart to see my study abroad friends from 2 years ago and then spent my last weekend with Yohannes in his little village called Coucy-le-Chateau. I wrote a bit here and there during my vacation so this post will be a quick recap (who am I kidding, my blog posts never end up being quick recaps). I had a really great time, and was happy to be able to see Jess and my Tübingen friends before flying back to the States (which is in a week from Thursday, by the way).

Vienna:

I had been to Vienna once before, with Jess in February of 2006, so I can't say we did much sight-seeing in the two days I was there. We checked out a market which was great, walked a bit around the city, drank delicious Viennese coffee, and went out with her friends.



Budapest:

This was my first trip to Budapest, and I was very excited for it. I didn't really know much about the city before going, to be honest, but for some reason it was always a place I imagined visiting. I ended up loving the city, a bit more than Jessica I think. Though we tend to have different tastes, when we travelled in 2006 she fell in love with Amsterdam, I preferred Brussels, etc. Budapest is a very real city, something I didn't really feel about Prague. And though I wouldn't call Budapest the most beautiful city I have ever seen, it has some really nice areas, the Parliament building is incredible, and very impressive synagogues and basilicas. We didn't make it to the famous Budapest bath houses, but we did have a nice time on Margaret Island and in the Hungarian House of Wines. We also got to see some of my good friends from home, Bennett and Judy, who are teaching in a town 2 hrs outside of the city.




Prague:

I don't want to say I was disappointed by Prague. It is an extremely beautiful city. One of the most beautiful I have probably ever seen. The baroque architecture in the Old Town was gorgeous, the Charles Bridge is what it is cracked up to be, and the view from up high is breathtaking. That being said, at times in Prague I felt like I was in an amusement park. You know, like Busch Gardens Europe where every section of the park is a different country in Europe. Tourists in this city are taking over. Paris is touristy, Venice is touristy, Prague has gone past touristy. I'm sure there are also parts of the city we didn't get to that are less touristy and I'm a tourist, too, so how much tourist bashing am I really entitled to. Either way we had a good time and met lots of other young travelers in our hostel which was great.

Look what I found!

TOURISTS:

Recap of Tübingen and Coucy-le-Chateau to come soon!