Saturday, November 6, 2010

This is not a construction site or all of Italy where we treat people like pieces of meat

I’m really bad about updating this blog. I should work on that. I also want to give a shout out to Laura and Levi for reading this- thanks for googling me, I feel special. Also, just so you know, I watched True Blood today.

So I have just a little more than a month left in Grenoble and I’m so excited to go home. It’s not that I don’t love Grenoble or my study abroad experience, but I’m getting antsy and there are so many things I miss about America, especially the food. It’s impossible to get an American-style breakfast here. All I want in my life are some eggs, bacon, hash browns and bagel. Is that too much to ask?

I do think November will fly by because we have so many activities planned. September was great because everything was new and exciting, then there was a bit of a lull in October because we didn’t have many trips planned so we spent too many weekends in Grenoble going to the same bars and feeling slightly bored and homesick. Now it’s November and I’m feeling tired but also sad/nostalgic that our time is almost up. We have a lot of trips planned this month too: Venice, Paris and Scotland.

I spent Halloween weekend in Florence which was beautiful, especially the Ponte Vecchio when it was lit up at night. We climbed to the top of the Duomo, a cathedral with one of the biggest cupolas in Italy or in Europe, I can’t remember exactly. Lots of stairs to climb and too many people in tiny spaces, but the view of Florence from the top was incredible. We also saw Michelangelo’s David which was huge and incredible. I remember the first time I saw the Mona Lisa, I was underwhelmed. It was smaller than I thought it would be and there was nothing special about it (according to me who knows very little about art) but David was huge and impressive. It was definitely my favorite thing in Florence.

Ponte Vecchio






And of course I ate lots of pizza and pasta and had the best lasagna of my life. Other activities included sitting in restaurants for hours drinking cappuccinos and talking about death (it was a very intellectual trip), and getting annoyed with the Russian man in our hostel room. He was probably 40 years old, cranked the heat up and slept in only a speedo. His story was kind of fishy too. He was born in Russia then lived in Paris and Grenoble and he has an Italian girlfriend but he speaks perfect English with a British accent. I’m pretty sure he was a spy and I was terrified he was going to stab us in our sleep.





My goal for the rest of the semester is to stay alive which is proving to be quite difficult. I got Russian spies to deal with and terrorists hating on France. Grenoble is a bit sketchier than I had anticipated. Two friends live on the same road as I do, but when we’re walking home at night, there’s always that last little stretch that I have to walk alone and I’m constantly checking over my shoulder for danger.

I’ve seen men pick up prostitutes and was asked out on a date by a 60-year-old Middle Eastern man. I was sitting in the park doing my homework when the man sits down on the bench next to me and says something (it was in French so obviously I have no idea what it was, so I just smiled). This resulted in him taking the pen out of my hand and writing his phone number down for me. He then asked to take me on a date and I said no, while I was trying to put everything back in my bag so I could run away. He then kept asking me when I was going to call him and I booked it out of that park so fast. I’ve also had little 15-year-olds wearing track suits try to steal my money while waiting for the tram (avoid anyone in a track suit. It’s bad news).

The French are also striking every other day so our routines get disrupted a lot. The French government passed a law raising the retirement age from 60 to 62 and the French are not happy. The first strike back in September was interesting (and my journalistic instincts told me to go in the direction of it and take pictures, but my safety instincts told me otherwise), but now, after two months and having to walk over an hour to and from campus, it’s getting frustrating. When there are strikes, the trams stop running through the center of town and certain streets are blocked off.

BUT, for all of France’s annoyances and dangers, I finally feel at home here. In Italy, we kept accidentally speaking French and I was so relieved once we were finally back in France and I could understand the language. And riding trains for seven hours with Italians is not fun—they are so much louder than French people. I loved Italy but I prefer France where I can understand the language (for the most part), quietness is revered and there are caf├ęs every ten feet. Oh France, despite your strikes, people wearing track suits and the fact that I had to eat rabbit the other night, I have fallen madly in love with you.