31 January 2010

All Moved In

My last night in Asnières was no less than wonderful, apart from packing my suitcase and bidding farewell to friends once again.

The evening was centered around Indeed's gig, at "La Maison des Jeunes." As it didn't start until nearly 22h, however, the lead-up was filled with friends, a few drinks and a great atmosphere. I won't say the bands that played before Indeed were awful, but there were a few moments where I'm pretty sure I felt blood trickling out of my ears [joking...sort of].

Guillaume, Merry, Pierre and Florian were phenomenal. Sure, there were a few bumps here and there, but such is expected. The crowd applauded wildly at the end, and Indeed remained on stage for an encore performance, where they played "Fly Away." Though the song is far too overplayed for me to enjoy on a regular basis, there is something about people you love being around that makes everything different. The stage presence that Indeed emanated was absolutely outstanding, and the audience swayed with each measure.

After Indeed was another band [obviously they played very well or they would not have been mentioned] who called themselves Jungle Key. I can't even begin to explain the awe I felt when they started playing. After Indeed left the stage, I was all set to go back to the house and have a few drinks with friends again - I'd seen the boys in the band to come and wasn't impressed. I soon found out that I had judged far too quickly, as they walked on with their instruments - violins and a cello. Being a fellow orchestra geek, I was immediately intrigued. They looked young, but their enthusiasm leapt from their eyes and dragged you closer. The second they started playing, I grinned.

I guess I should explain that. I love music. It's been my biggest passion since I was in the first grade and started playing violin. It makes my whole world turn. Now, when I hear something new, fresh or exceptionally and uniquely awesome, I smile. I smile in appreciation and in celebration of and with people that share the same passion as me. My grin widened as they played on, their talent and stage presence simply indescribable.

Fresh air was in order after the performances worth watching, so we walked a bit before heading to Manuel's house. That is to say, we had to drop off the instruments at Merry's place before heading out. Instead of having a crazy drunken party like the one before, Manuel had a simple, tranquil set up that was full of snacks, drinks and friends. I spent the majority of the night on the balcony with some pretty cool people, and returned to my house in Asnières at 5 a.m. for one last bit of shut eye before my trip to Angers.

Waking up was not an easy task, especially as my sleep had been interrupted upon Merry's return, as well as his early depart for work at a Franprix in Paris. I groggily said goodbye to him as he wandered out my door, and quickly fell back asleep for an hour.

The next thing I knew, I was in the train station at Montparnasse. Thanks again to Merry's parents, I had little trouble finding my way and getting set in the train. As I was walking to the tenth cabin of the train, however, my mood shifted from anxiety, to slight regret that I hadn't gotten a proper goodbye from the "little Reeble." I was no less than surprised to hear a pitter patter of feet and feel a familiar arm grab my waist as Merry walked me the rest of the way to my seat. I was immediately set at ease, and boarded the train with one of the coolest people I know.

An hour and a half later, I arrived in Angers. Not knowing the city, the family I would be staying with [or anything else, for that matter], I was anxious [naturally]. I spotted my host mother right away from the ramp leading into the station, and we walked toward each other. Now that I think back on it, the situation was just like the stereotypical "love at first sight" scenes in movies. We'd never seen each other before that moment, a glance, and then a smile was shared, and we were drawn toward each other. [HARF]

Anyway, I got to the house alright, was immediately overwhelmed with information about bus stops, school, meals, my room, the rest of the house, my host family, and just about anything else you can possibly think of. On the positive side, however, I've only spoken French with them, and Valérie [my host mom], inferred directly after meeting me that I'd been spending time with French friends. [which is my way of saying screw Guillaume and all of the other French kids I know that "love my slight, but adorable American accent"]

I'm all settled in now, and ready to begin my exploration of Angers...tomorrow. I'm completely pooped out by the successes of today. But, tomorrow morning marks the beginning of a very strange, long and exciting journey that I like to call "studying abroad" [how dare any of you for assuming that was a true statement]. I don't actually have a name for it yet, but I'm not too worried about it. My only concern for the moment is trying to figure out the godforsaken bus system.

Angers. Why don't you have a metro. Worst decision ever.

TTFN [ta ta for now]

"Nothing in the world is permanent, and we're foolish when we ask anything to last, but surely we're still more foolish not to take delight in it while we have it. If Change is of the essence of existence one would have thought it only sensible to make it the premise of our philosophy."
-W. Somerset Maugham

29 January 2010

Back in France

I guess I'll start this out by saying I'm a newcomer to the blogging world.

Shoot. Maybe I should start with the fact that I'm technically a compulsive liar. [I do it on accident, I swear] Moving on.

True story: my first blog was for an organisation I'm in called AIESEC. I'm sure I'll be talking a lot more about it in posts to come, so we'll leave this first little spiel to the beginning of a five month adventure.

Give me a break, I know it sounds cheesy.

This is my first REAL blog. Let's just say my main reason for creating something I once loathed so passionately is due to my undying dedication to the preservation of trees and the environment; that is, saving trees by having a so-called "diary" via this thing.

My five month [technically six] adventure began with an extra two week vacation after winter break. Instead of decaying away in my hometown for an extra fifteen days, I decided a couple of months ago that I would try something new; screw Kansas, I was going to study abroad. [don't worry, I'll get back to the two weeks]

And so I toiled through the painstakingly long application, essays, acceptance letter, student Visa accommodation, flight itinerary, unforeseen travel delays and sorrowful goodbyes. I'll leave out the details to spare you from suffering of boredom, something I'll save for your professors, parents, etc.

You have to understand, I made this decision on a whim. Hence the URL. There may or may not have been people who made indirect impacts on my decision, but again, that story is for another day. My mother didn't know about my decision to study abroad until just before I was accepted. My closest friends were aware, but I was so pessimistic about even getting in that they paid little attention to the fact that there was an enormous possibility I'd be in a different world for half of a year.

Onward ho. After nearly twenty hours of flight and dozens of obnoxiously artificial flight attendants, I was in Paris again. I had had a brief two month encounter with "La Ville-Lumière" this past summer, [old news, old boy] and thought I'd be more than eager to roam the streets I had wandered during the scorching days of June and July.

The thing is, it's different this time [BIG surprise]. Not only am I not in the 13ème arrondissement any more, I have so much more to miss back home. I know, I know, you want to harf; [for those who are unfamiliar with my vocabulary: harf = ralf, hurl, vomit, throw up] as awful and cliche as this may sound though, I actually mean it. Sincerely. Which, coming from me, is sort of a big deal.

The positive side, however, is how incredibly fortunate I've been thus far. I'm currently located in my own little cabin in my friend Merry's backyard, in Asnières, France. It's a quaint and marvelous suburb about 20 minutes outside of Paris. You must realize, however, that my using of the word "quaint" is directly related to my comparison of this town versus Paris. [So, in reality, it's still twice as big as my hometown in the United States, but miniscule compared to the France I knew first.] How I managed to fall into the luck of free room and board for the second time in France, I'll never know, but shucks am I grateful for it.

Merry is one of my best friends, though he [yes he] lives over 5,000 miles away from me. I met him when he and nine other exchange students from France studied at the University of Kansas for three months. Long story short, stuff happened [that's what she said, but no, really...not that kind of stuff] and him and his family have been awesome enough to host me in my, wait for it - TWO WEEK VACATION. That's right, kids. Be jealous. I'm living the dream, drinking wine, eating cheese and bread, and I get an extra long break.

:short interjection:
So I know you're all probably wondering: how much did his parents have to hate him to name him Merry? In all reality, you should be jealous as hell. His older sister was just as lucky to get such an awesome name; Arwen. If you can't make the connection from that, you should not be on this page right now. Merry and Arwen, what lucky people. I guess all hope is not lost for the French.

This Sunday, my reign as Boss of Paris ends once more as I migrate to Angers, where I'll be studying for five months in a relatively small university. It all comes down to this: school. France. Personal growth. LEARNING. This is my life for the next five months, and gosh darn it, I am going to embrace it with all of my might. Despite the friends I miss so dearly, my two families in both Lawrence and Manhattan, Kansas, and the life I've nearly always known, it's my turn to take a risk. It's my turn to make sacrifices and take a selfish trip to explore and grow as a person. This is what I'm doing right now, and I hope you're as ready as I'm pretending to be to take in and take hold of everything this country has to throw at me.

Toodles for now.

"Doubt is a pain too lonely to know that faith is his twin brother."
-Kahlil Gibran