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: 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: jaeya on livejournal (curiosity)
So it's 10pm, and I'm finally done packing everything. I have both a love and hate relationship with packing. I like the mindless activity of neatly stuffing everything into a suitcase, but I hate thinking about everything that I need to bring. I'm just really nervous that I'll forget to bring something Incredibly Important. 

I remember that when I packed for my freshman year of college, I routinely forget v. necessary items, thus requiring me to Bart back to Fremont the first few weeks to bring things like contact solution (how sad is it that I forgot that?). Alas, I won't have the luxury of coming back home whenever I want.

As excited I am for exploration and traveling (and studying...I guess), the idea that I won't have a comfort zone to return to for six months is a bit daunting. This will be the furthest away from home I've ever been for such an extended amount of time. Also, taking 4 semesters of French means nothing in college. I'm nowhere near fluent. I am hopefully mildly comprehensible when I speak. And um...let's not get into my listening skills. But, we all have to start somewhere I guess. All my classes will be taught in French, so we'll see how that works out. (I am both happy and sad that nothing I take will probably count toward my major). 

I'm actually going a bit earlier than I need to, since my program (University of Bordeaux; Spring) doesn't officially start till the 3rd. But I'll be spending two days with Y. at her apartment. <3 

Anyway, to anyone who is thinking about or preparing to study abroad:
  • Think about getting your ticket from STA Travel. They have incredible deals for students. :) I was scouring online looking for the cheapest deals, and I think STA has some of the best ones. Also, you can get an International Student ID card from them, super helpful if you plan on traveling a lot during your stay abroad.
  • Do some research on your bank! I actually primarily use Wells Fargo for banking, but had to start an account at Bank of America because Wells Fargo doesn't have an international presence. I did some research on other banks, but I think BoA has the best deals for college students. Also, BoA has partnerships with BNP Paribas (France), Barclays (UK), Deutsche Bank (Germany), and BNL d'Italia (Italy), so you can withdraw money from their ATM's without the ~$5 service charge (though there will still be an exchange rate, I believe). Also, don't forget to call your banks to set up a travel advisory, so they don't think you're getting scammed when charges show up overseas. :) 

May 2012