yuji: jaeya on livejournal (Default)
So much has happened. I'm going to try to post everything that's gone on for the past month in the next few days. I finally uploaded the pictures I took from Toulouse, but this has been my travel schedule so far:

1.26 - 1.28: Toulouse, France
2.09 - 2.11: Porto, Portugal
2.17 - 2.19: Paris, France

And then next week it will be:
London, Berlin, Amsterdam (for 24 hours), and Edinburgh.

This is just a general post on things that happened at Bordeaux, and the next few ones will be about the trips I just came back from. :)

So far, all my classes have been amazing. I'm having a lot of fun in them. I'm only taking the minimum amount of units and I only actually have class from Tuesday to Thursday. I still have a bit of work to do though, since my classes are mostly studio classes. So far I've done a ink wash drawing 50 x 65 cm and designed 6 brochures for my classes. I still have to complete a 33x33 cm graphite piece, do a contour line drawing of my living quarters, and design 3 more brochures for design. I might post a couple of things up later.

This is a picture of Mollat, one of the biggest (and coolest!) bookstores in Bordeaux. I've spent so much time here just browsing a couple art books. They have pretty much everything in there, even a section on books in English. :)

Next to Mollat is a gelato place called Amorino. I got yogurt/mango flavored gelato, and it was amazing. Maybe the best gelato I've had so far, the mango flavor tastes just like the fruit when ripe. Also, this gelato place shapes the gelato in the form of a flower when you buy a cone.


Below is just a random collection of pictures I've taken at Bordeaux:

This is me in front of the Musée des Beaux Arts at Bordeaux. It's unfortunately undergoing renovation until the Spring, so there isn't that much artwork to see inside right now, but the outside is still gorgeous. 

This was taken in front of a building at Saint Émilion, a region famous for its wine in Bordeaux. While there, we also visited a huge underground monolithic church (the biggest in Europe), and the cave that the patron saint (Saint Émilion) lived in while he was hermit-ing his days away in a very Shakyamuni kind of way. 

Part of the outside of the church (the part that's above ground, obviously). 

Another angle. 

These are a small section of the wine barrels we saw while visiting one of the vineries. 

Some dead grape vines. 

This is an image of the Grande Théâtre, I actually live 20 minutes by foot from here. :) I really want to see a play, opera, orchestra live here, so I may purchase some tickets soon. Right across from the Grande Théâtre is the Regent, a grand 5 star hotel (and best one in Bordeaux), and Larnicol, an amazing bakery that sells delicious macarons.

Also near the Grande Théâtre is this carousel. You can actually see a bit of the Grande Théâtre in this picture (it's in the background on the left). I love how the carousel lights up in the evening.

This is what it looks like when I'm walking from my homestay toward the Grande Théâtre.  

This is a picture of my washing machine. What do all those things mean? I was so confused when I first used it, because I had no idea what to press. There are actually more buttons on the left side, and the dryer is even MORE confusing. 

yuji: estheticons on livejournal (Final Fantasy XIII; Lightning)
I started writing a post about the Cathedral of Saint Michel that I went to last friday afternoon, but then I started talking to J. and A. and decided that's more interesting to write about for now.Haha, basically we have to make a presentation in class today about French culture somehow, and for the project you need to interview 2 people. I just really used this as an excuse to talk to A. and J. Since I like conversations. Especially awkward ones in languages I can't really speak. 

Well, anyway, I decided to do my project on "Pop Culture," so I joined A. and J. and asked them all about what music they listen to, what's popular on T.V., what films are showing, who are celebrities to know, etc. 

Basically, they listen (and most kids their age, I guess) to American music (think 89.3/94.9) and things like that. Black Eyed Peas was the first band A. said when I asked them. Later we were just looking at J.'s itunes library (I think A. wanted to steal some songs from him?). It was fun just sitting around with them and hanging out, although we don't especially talk. They did teach me how to say masturbate though, hahaha. That's what I get for asking about slang I guess. 

I showed them QWOP in return. >:D 

What I find hilarious is that they don't expect me to know these songs (even though, uh, I'm American?!). Haha, they would play Dido's "White Flag" or Jet "Look What You've Done," or Oasis "Stop Crying Your Heart Out," and keep asking me if I know what song it is. Haha, I KNOW IT. I CAN SING THE LYRICS GUYS. I LISTEN TO THESE SONGS ON THE RADIO ALL DA TIME. I even understand the lyrics! But it's hilarious because every time I hum along to each song they "show" me, they seem so surprised that I know it. D: I don't live under a rock!! 

I have finally seen J. laugh and smile, haha. Also J. showed me E=MC Vagina. T__T And then he cracked up, hahahaha. It was strange seeing him sing along to it. LOL 
yuji: jaeya on livejournal (Default)
 So, I've been in Bordeaux for around a week now, and with my host family for around 4 days. The first couple of days (2 days) with my host family was pretty lonely. I would hear all these stories from other people in my ILP classes who talk about how interested in their own lives their host family was, and how willing they are to show them around the city, etc. and how much they want to learn about American culture in return. I think that since my home stay family has hosted so many students before them, they don't care that much about American culture because they've asked questions to their previous host-ees. So, yeah, they don't really talk to me THAT much. Only if I say something first, they haven't tried to engage a conversation. 

I'm very lucky in that while I'm in a home stay, it's independent enough that it feels like an apartment. My host parents are gone till around 8 pm every day, and the 3 other french high schoolers that live here constantly have their room doors shut (thus making me feel like I shouldn't bother them just because I'm...quite...frankly...a...bit...bored sometimes). So basically, a lot of times it feels like I can't/don't interact with anyone in my home stay until dinner time, which is always (though not recently! the fewer people their are at the dinner table, the easer it is to communicate, thus less boredom!) an awkward affair. 

But things got a LOT better after the third day. Which was awesome because I was starting to think that it would be awkward and bleh for a while. I was chatting with the host mom while she was making dinner, and through some questions, she revealed that J. can actually speaks English because he studied abroad in America for a year. Queue me instantly going (WTF, THEN WHY DOESN'T HE TALK TO ME.) Haha, after that revelation, I went up to J's room and asked him if he spoke English (in French), to which he responded with (Yeah, in English). 

Me (in English): WHAT. WAIT WHAT? Then why don't you talk to me?  D: D: D: D:
J (in English): huh? like in English?
Me (English): oh...wait what, we don't even talk in French!
J: ....
Me (in French): will you practice French with me?

-- Queue to awesome first, legit, long conversation (ever really) I've had in French the entire time I've been here to the home stay (so 3 days in). And after that things started getting better. :) J. is a really cool 17 year old in his last year of high school, who wants to go to business school and travel around. Was in Kansas for a year doing a study abroad program, and went to 1934034123480134 states. Likes SF and NY like a boss. Also loves sports, but not basketball.

I still need to get A. to warm up to me, but it's very hard because he speaks no english. At all. And he speaks French at 212343 miles per hour. Or km, I guess now that I'm here and he's French. I can't understand a word he says because he slurs his words together a lot and uses slang. I'm pretty sure my face is in perpetual confusion when he says something to me. We can only interact when he talks to me as if I were an infant. Which, I'm sure, makes him less amicable to want to talk to me. (The other A. lives in another building across the backyard, so I never see her until dinner time, so basically we don't interact). 

Awkward conversations I've had at the dinner table where I embarrass myself in some way:

R (youngest son, ~24, in French): How old is your brother? 
Me: uhhh....vingt-deux, vingt-trois? (22/23?)
R: ?? you don't know the right age?? What year was he born?
Me: UHHH why are you asking me about dates? it's almost the hardest thing to say...mille....mille....huit-cent... quatre-vingt dix-neuf wait what, that is not right at all...
Me: D: D: D: 
(Eventually we hit the right date, but um, yeah, my brother was most definitely not born in the 19th century). 


A: *Tells his WHOLE life story that is around a 45 minute spiel,where the host parents interject with their own thoughts; basically only J. is listening because this is new information to him, and he actually understands it*
Me: Zoning out because I was lost within the first phrase. 
Host Dad (French): Do you understand anything? 
Me: No. 
Everyone: ... 
Me: ....
A: *continues with his story* 

(Seriously, that day, I wanted to just take a nap at the dinner table. His life though is extremely interesting, I caught bits and pieces of bits of sentences, and can place together that there is some sort of sad/tragic/childhood past going on there.)


We're all playing around with the iPad 2
Host Dad (in French): I want the sketchbook app!
A/J: *helps him download it*
Me: oooooohhhh
Application: All the instructions are in English!
A: *reads aloud the English instructions*
Host Dad (in French): He reads it but doesn't understand a word of it!
A: *wide grin* 


Host Dad (French): Where are you going out tonight?
Me: Umm...UM...je sortirai avec des amis! Je vais EXPLORER LA VILLE~

(I thought saying that I will explore the city wasn't that strange of a sentence, but everyone burst into laughter for the longest time and I have no idea. IT'S NOT THAT WEIRD THAT I WANT TO EXPLORE THE CITY!!) 

yuji: estheticons on livejournal (Final Fantasy XIII; Lightning)
I got picked up today from my home stay by a French student by the name of (which I will reveal despite ~internet anonymity) because his name is too interesting to not reveal, Aubin de Belleroche. When I told my host parents who was picking me up, they immediately started poking fun at his name (oooohh he's a noble! un baron!!) But yeah, apparently anyone with a "de" in their name is a noble.  Anyway, A picked me up from my home stay and showed me how to get to the Université Bordeaux III (a 40-50 min. commute D:) It's all fairly simple, but I still got lost getting home, had to ask 2 people to give me some directions. >< Everyone I asked was extremely nice about it though. 

By the way, off tangent, but my home stay is amazing. By which I mean the apartment is amazing. My host family lives smack down in down town (fairly close-ish to the Grande Théâtré) where they own a printing shop (the Imprimerie). I think they might own that whole building area of the print shop, since the apartment is 2 stories big and lies right on top of the print shop. My own room is pretty big, there's a full sized bed and a shower & sink within the room. It's probably the size of my living room in my Berkeley apartment. 

The strange thing about French people is that their bathrooms are just essentially rooms for toilets. There's nothing there except for a toilet and toilet paper. The sink is pretty far away from the toilet too, since it's in our own rooms (which is down the hall). The third story, where I live, is shared by A. and J. (both French high schoolers), we each get our own room and showers. The second floor is where my host parents sleep, and also where the kitchen and living room is. The whole second floor is probably bigger than my Berkeley apartment in itself. I was expecting a pretty dinky room, so I'm very pleasantly surprised. 

My family is pretty big, there's 3 other students who live with me (all are French, however, and speak next to no English, sad to say), and last night, their youngest son (R) and his fiancé came over for dinner as well. Needless to say, dinner was extremely awkward for me as I could do nothing but politely nod. It lasted around 1 to 2 hours, but it felt like I was in the middle of a foreign movie with no subtitles. I couldn't follow the conversation at all. Also there was an embarrassing situation where they asked me about my siblings, of which I responded that I had one, who's age could or could not be 22-23. They wanted to know for sure so they asked me when he was born, but as all French learners would know, saying dates is actually...quite...difficult. >> Well, let's just say the table was laughing for quite a bit, before we got down to the actual date that my brother was born in. At least it was amusing for a while! I have to say that it was a bit lonely at first (without internet of course! since the password they gave me didn't work for the longest time, which was again an awkward conversation with one of the guys), but it's gotten slightly better. My host mom is gone till 8pm working, and when she comes back she just makes dinner (which is served at 9pm). My host dad is gone from work (at 8am) until dinner time. And A & J. have their doors shut every minute they are indoors. Which kinda sucks because I would love to interact with them more. But alas, doors shut and language barriers make it a teensy bit hard. We are all "tutoyer-ing" though which is good. 

Today was an improvement though, as after dinner the guys and my host dad started playing around with the new iPad 2 that they bought. Where upon they showed me Rémi Gaillard, a French comedian/humorist who plays pranks on people (like recreating Mario Kart on a real road in France). And also we talked about Gray's Anatomy, and how I like House better (called Doctor House in French, and also a very popular show). Mostly, I chat with my host mom while she makes dinner. She corrects my shitty grammar, and we got on the topic of politics and Mitt Romney and how he may or may not be a Mormon, and how that could help him win because Mormon's are wealthy.   
yuji: in_brilliance on livejournal (Kingdom Hearts)
So all those stereotypes about French people being tall and skinny are true.  And by people I don't just mean actual people, even the image on crosswalk signals are stick-thin (no really, I'm being completely serious; on an entirely different note, crosswalk signals change depending on what part of France/country you are in. Apparently in one area of France the signal to stop walking is posed with his hands on his hips, in a very ~sassy way). Even drinks are tall and skinny. Okay I'll stop now about that. 

Anyway, I have now been in France for ~24 hours now. Got scammed by the taxi driver (why am I not surprised by this...), but got to Y's place all in one place. She's staying with an old land lady, and the apartment is appropriately and stereotypically very old, european-lady-ish. Actually, now that I think about it, if Umbridge lived in an apartment in Bordeaux, it would be furnished and decorated just like this (with all the pink, floral accents and everything). 

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May 2012