Blogs from Nord-Pas de Calais, France, Europe - page 30

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Europe » France » Nord-Pas de Calais » Lille October 4th 2007

I hate showers in France. I do. They usually involve no curtain and a hose with a showerhead at the end that either has no place to hang up or can be hung up, but only at a spot at least a foot below where it should be to accommodate you. It definitely helps me take shorter showers, but I miss being able to take a shower to relax. Can’t really do that here. I usually end up hosing down whatever bathroom has a bathtub with a showerhead that doesn’t hang or have a curtain, and here at home the water escapes where the curtain should seal with the wall to prevent the crazy thing from spraying everywhere. I miss my American showers… ... read more

Europe » France » Nord-Pas de Calais » Lille October 4th 2007

You know how you have to go to a FedEx-Kinkos or CVS or Walgreens to get a passport picture in the States? Not the case here. They have booths everywhere here for just that - in Metro and train stations, in malls and shopping areas… But it isn’t just their abundance that sets them apart. It’s the signs in and on them that set them apart as well. When someone puts a camera in your face, you are expected to smile, right? False. Not here. The signs are as follows: “Il ne faut pas rigoler avec vos photos d’identité! pour la validité administrative de vos photos, merci d’avoir une expression neutre.” ID Photos are not to be joked around with! Blah blah blah… maintain a neutral expression. Then there’s another one that gives you four suggestions: ... read more

Europe » France » Nord-Pas de Calais » Lille October 2nd 2007

I have been noticing something. Americans make a lot of trash. Especially compared to the French, who seem to produce next to none. I suppose this can be explained by several things. * 1. They eat less. So they have less packaging, etc., to throw away. And, since their portions are smaller, they have less leftover food to be disposed of as well. * 2. They shop more often and buy less, usually only buying what they need for the next few days. They use it, throw away the packaging, and get more only when they need it. The lack of stocking up probably makes it seem like they get rid of even less since it’s more evenly spread out. * 3. Packaging in general is simpler and uses less material. * 4. When you go ... read more

Europe » France » Nord-Pas de Calais » Lille September 30th 2007

My first couch surfing experience could not have been any better. Language school was finished, bags were gone, and pretty much most of the group had left Cologne. So Justus and I decided...lets go to France! Warum Nicht!? (Why not?) - This is going to become my new motto for life I think. I stayed out a bit too late on Friday...ok 4 am...partying the night away with the kids from our exchange group. Great way to end our 2 months in Cologne, but didn't fare to well when my alarm went off at 7 am in the morning. I somehow managed to move and get myself to the train station on time for our 8:30 train. Didn't get a whole lot of sleep on the train, was interested in seeing a bit of the countryside ... read more
Opera House
Buildings
Umbrella

Europe » France » Nord-Pas de Calais » Lille September 29th 2007

I met a young French couple (24 years old) yesterday just by leaving the door open in my auberge (hostel) while I was in the room. I had been out walking all day since we can’t be in the hostel between 10 and 4 anyway, so by the evening I was sort of burnt out on walking around alone. Since I didn’t really have anything else to do, I was just going to read some and try to go to bed (it was somewhere between 9 and 10 at that point). However, the couple stopped by and wondered if I wanted to join them for a walk and a drink somewhere. And I did. And it was great. We talked a lot about cultural differences, and how we thought each culture became what it is today. ... read more

Europe » France » Nord-Pas de Calais » Lille September 29th 2007

Let me just clear something up for all of you who think that you can become fluent in a language from hardcore studying in school. You may get damn good at the language itself, but you cannot become well-versed in culture, which you need to call yourself anywhere close to fluent in a language. What brought this one? “Si vous voulez bien patienter quelques instants…” Literally: “If you’d be willing to wait a moment…” That, however, is not an accurate translation. I waited two hours and fifteen minutes, not a moment, to see the director of La Résidence Bethany, a sort of dormlike residency for les jeunes travailleurs de Lille (young working people in Lille), with zero apologies. And that’s normal. Waiting “just a moment” in France can mean a moment, but it can easily mean ... read more

Europe » France » Nord-Pas de Calais » Lille September 28th 2007

It’s 9AM. I had to be out of the hostel. It’s raining. My umbrella is in Paris. I came to the huge mall, EuraLille. The shops aren’t open, but the cafés are. I bought a croissant and an orange juice so I could sit down for a bit. I really enjoy a fresh croissant. It’s early enough that they are still warm. The fragile, shiny shell cracks, shatters, then dissolves to nothing, giving way to a warm, light, doughy center. Somehow the French make it possible to give a croissant a rich, buttery flavor without making it seem heavy at all. Mmm. I’m sitting here at this little snack shop/café, which is nothing fancy at all - it’s a little stand in a mall with metal tables and chairs - and yet I’m still amazed by ... read more

Europe » France » Nord-Pas de Calais » Lille September 28th 2007

It’s 11AM. I’m sitting here at the gare (train station) because they have seating that doesn’t require me to buy anything, and I realized that I forgot to tell you my absolute favorite thing about train stations. Not all gares have them, but some do, including the Paris Gare du Nord (North Station), which happens to be the Paris gare that goes to Lille. The signs!!! Every train station has a huge billboard-sized sign high up in the middle of the gare that posts the scheduled departure times, destinations, numbers, and voies (gates/ways). The ones I love are not the brand new, digital screens with bright orange LED numbers and letters, nor are they the old, funky digital screens with blocky, green, dot matrix-looking text. The signs I love are based on the old-fashioned ones that ... read more

Europe » France » Nord-Pas de Calais » Lille September 27th 2007

This is important. 1. This is not a personal journal - at least, that isn’t my intent. There will most definitely be information about what's happening in my life here, but this blog is primarily for little cultural observations that I make during my time here. I intend to leave most of my personal details out. If you want them, though, you need only ask! 2. Please read this, and please comment! I want your feedback. If you don’t want to comment this way, then copy/paste it with your comments in an email/FB/MySpace message. 3. If you are going to comment on the blog site itself, please refrain from being too inappropriate; this is for friends, parents, grandparents… 4. Please keep in touch with me! I’m doing quite well, but I still get lonely, and I ... read more

Europe » France » Nord-Pas de Calais » Lille September 27th 2007

I’ll write about it tomorrow - it’s still too new for me to even have an impression. But taking the train and arriving here alone really solidified that I really am starting completely over. And it’s sad and it’s exciting and it’s scary and it’s wonderful and it’s exhausting and it’s energizing. I was reminded of L’Auberge espagnole (The Spanish Apartment), another one of my favorite movies. (The movie, briefly, is about Xavier, who decides to spend a year abroad in Spain studying Economics. During this time, he lives in an apartment with about six other people, all of different nationalities.) When Xavier first arrives in Spain, he remarks how strange and foreign all the names and things and people seemed, and how they would, a year later, become as routine and unremarkable to him as ... read more




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