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Saturday, January 30, 2010

Blois and the Loire Valley

 The Chateaux of the Loire Valley are world-famous for their luminous beauty.  Guidebooks show you the reflection of their spiraling towers on the water, surrounded by blooming colorful trees and flowers. 

On our trip, we didn't exactly get the guidebook-promised experience, since it was about 38 degrees and rainy the entire time.  We still managed to have a good time, and almost the entire group (minus 3 sleepyheads) ventured around the quiet town of Blois and found a bar with a dance floor!  (Le Loch Ness...)

Here are some highlights:

The Chateau at Blois:
This Chateau was built in three distinct time periods, and you can easily see this from the plaza in front of it:

King Francois I built this spiral staircase, kicking off the French Renaissance:

The Chateau at Chambord is one of the most majestic, with 28 towers spiraling up:  

Like Blois, it is barely furnished (and barely heated in winter), as the Kings used to move from Castle to Castle.  It too has a spiral staircase, but this one is a double helix! 

My favorite was the Chateau at Cheverney, probably because it was heated.  (And the noble family still lives there!)  The author of TinTin was inspired by this castle for one of his books, and Ardy, Casey and I recreated the picture - coming soon!

Until next time!  --Feel free to leave a comment or send me an email!  (Thanks Jody and Maria!) 


Friday, January 22, 2010

Arrival Adventures

Woohoo!  The first week is coming to an end and it has been a whirlwind.  After a sprint through security at Heathrow (literally, a sprint), I made it onto my plane and into France.

I'm now bien-installĂ©e (all settled in) to my "girly room" (everything is green and pink), and my family has been incredibly warm and welcoming.  Armance, who is 19, and I have already spent plenty of time chatting, trying on each other's clothes, and of course, writing on each other's facebook walls while we're sitting across from each other at the table.  Also correction to my earlier post, Ambroise (age 14) is a BOY!  He's supercool, we are already friends.  Yesterday we sat in his room and compared the way Americans and French write different numbers (sounds boring but I swear it wasn't...).

Tufts has been keeping us busy with orientation activities.  We've done everything from exploring Montparnasse (the area where the Tufts office is), to a tour of Le Marais, one of the oldest areas of Paris, a tour of the Louvre, to practical information such as "15" - the French version of 911 and who to call in what type of emergency.  I've also done some of my own exploring - of my quartier (which is supernice, lots of shopping, I'm exercising all my self-control) to exploring the 5th arrondissement (the student area) with my Tufts classmates.

Here are a few pictures:

The key to my room:

The view from my window.


Tomorrow we're going to the Chateux of the Loire.....  I'll write more soon!  Thanks for reading and I'd love to have a comment!!


I'm here!

I've arrived, safely.  More details later!

For now..... sleep!!


Thursday, January 7, 2010

Getting Excited...

Ever since I was applying to colleges, I knew that I would study abroad in France, most likely in Paris.  Since then, I've briefly considered Geneva, as well as Senegal and Morocco because from a public health perspective these would be AWESOME, but I just couldn't give up Paris....And now, it's finally becoming "real!"

Yesterday, I completed the harrowing visa process by picking it up at the French embassy - where the man called me "princesse" twice: once in a threatening way ("I'll be with you in a moment, princesse!") and once in a more endearing way, with a big smile ("I will now help you, princesse").  It's a relief to have my visa in my hand.  Aside from a few toiletries (hair gel!!), I pretty much have everything that I need to bring to Paris: my passport, a plane ticket, my new boots...

Yesterday I also received information about my host family and I COULDN'T BE MORE EXCITED!  (as demonstrated by all caps, I'm trying to hold back on exclamation points).......!!!!!!!!  I'll be living in the 16th arrondissement, which is on the west side of Paris.  My family has an apartment on the 2nd floor of the building, and my room (described as "very girly!!"....!!!) is on the sixth floor.  I also will have my own bathroom up there, and my 19 year old sister and a few of her friends have rooms on the same floor.

As for my family, my host mother is a history professor and my host father is in the financial/business world.  I have a total of 5 siblings:
-Marguerite, age 21 - currently studying in Spain
-Armance, age 19 - she's the one on my floor!
-Charles, age 16 - currently studying in Ireland
-Ambroise, age 14 - best name everrrr
-Balthazar, age 7 - unless this is the best name ever
They are described as very welcoming and warm and I am SO excited to meet them!  I'm off to go write them a letter of introduction...

Thanks for reading!  I'd love to hear from you via a comment (just press the button at the bottom of this post!, - but remember to put your name so I know who you are), or an email.  Or, since I'm still in the US, give me a call!  I leave Jan. 16th - 8 days!