France · 125 Days · 61 Moments · February 2019

8 days ago

About 20 minutes ago my train left Angers, and it’s really bittersweet. Finals ended the best that they could, I won’t know the results until I go back to school. Alain and Sylvaine gave me a home away from home and treated me as one of their own. I will miss their hospitality and kindness. Sylvaine- made us watch a tv show where the contestants had to sing songs with missing verses. I will miss her off key singing and her dancing. She always had a smile on her face which made me smile. Alain- joked with me constantly. He teased me like I was his daughter. There wasn’t a day that went by without being made fun of. That’s what sealed the deal. He knew how to put me at ease and she coaxed me to talk. For our last dinner with them, we bought a cake from their favorite bakery shop, wrote a note and we are sending them a canvas printed photo of all of us. They were sweet enough to give us French CDs to listen too and a kind note. I leave behind a second family that I will miss dearly. 💕

4 June 2019

The week of exams has commenced!! I am already halfway through them. I have two more tomorrow and one on Friday. It’s hard to believe that my semester is almost over or the fact I’ve been here for a little over 4 months. I’m enjoying every second of my time here. Before I get into that, my JINS class (online summer course) started on Monday. It’s about Rock and Roll and how it’s impacted American culture. I’m super excited but it’s a lot of writing, wish me luck! Also, PLEASE for the love of all that’s good, watch “When they see us” on Netflix. It portrays the flaws within our legal system and the racial discrimination that many Americans face. Tonight my host mother made us a dish that’s very “traditional French cuisine”. In other words she made us cow or pig tongue. Not sure which one, but it was a once in a lifetime event. Never again. I’m getting shivers just thinking about it. She made carrot cake tonight and was super proud of herself. I’m sure going to miss the weird food.

31 May 2019

Yesterday I went to Disneyland Paris for the second time, however this time I went to Walt Disney Studios. It’s kind of like Hollywood Studios at Disney World. At this park, there was actually quite a few rides that we do not have back in the States. These rides include: Crush’s Coaster, Ratatouille, RC Racer, the Army Man Drop and much more. We absolutely had to do Rock n Roller coaster ( though it was disappointing. The music wasn’t as loud, there wasn’t any signs and the intro was too short) and Tower of Terror (my favorite). It was a great day and reminded me of home. This trip to Paris will be the last one for another 2 years. It’s nice to know I’ll be back to France one day so the ending isn’t as sad. This weekend, will be all about studying for all the exams coming up. I have 6 exams next week and I leave on Saturday, June 8th for an hotel close to the airport. I’m looking forward to spending as much time with my host family and possible and soaking in the French culture.

30 May 2019

Not much to say about the past week. This was my last week of school with many tests and projects. Everything went well! I am currently in Paris until Saturday. I left this morning around 9:45 and the train arrived in Paris at 11:15. From there the metro was navigated, so that Michaela and I could check in to our hotel. We got situated, figured out our plan of attack and then ate lunch in the room. We needed to get over to the Catacombs by 1:45 for our timed entry at 2. The Catacombs was once a quarry on the outskirts of Paris in the 13th century for the stone that built Notre Dame and other buildings. Soon this quarry became abandoned. It was decided that since one of the old cemeteries was abandoned, they would moved the skeletons from that cemetery to the quarry and therefore made the Catacombs. It was definitely a cool experience. Next we hit Luxembourg gardens which was just beautiful and we people watched. Our last stop was the Eiffel Tower for our last glimpse of Paris. ❤️

24 May 2019

My last full week of school came in went. It’s crazy to think that at this time in 2 weeks I will be in Paris getting ready to fly home the next day. This week my host mom left on Wednesday to visit her daughter in Iceland. It was just us and our host dad Wednesday night at dinner. What I expected to be an awkward dinner was actually quite powerful. The European Union has an election tomorrow, so we got into a discussion about climate change, salaries, socio-economic class and even abortion. It was quite enlightening and inspirational. It’s super neat to be able to have those conversations and to be able to accurately describe situations. Yesterday, I went to a chocolatérie and discovered how artisan chocolate is made. (Amazing, but my sweet tooth was acting up the whole time). This weekend, I’ve been preparing myself for the three tests that are coming up next week. I want to finish the semester out strong. Cheers to another 3 days of school, 4 day break and then a week of exams!

20 May 2019

Playing catch up yet again on here. The past two days have gone by so fast. On Monday, I felt productive as usual, because it’s my cleaning day. Everything was nice and neat and laundry was finished before noon. Anyways, after class I stopped to talk to my professor about my grammar for an upcoming presentation. After we reviewed some of my questions, she turned to me and said “you’ve really progressed this semester. I only had to make two corrections, I’m very impressed. You’re one of my best students”. Until that moment I wasn’t sure I was improving, but now I know that hard work pays off. I’m so very thankful that she told me that because it boosted my moral for the next 2.5ish weeks. Things here are going better than I thought or give myself credit for. At dinner last night, I taught my host parents familiar expressions such as “y’all” “you make a better door than a window”. Our host dad, taught us expressions that are not fit to be repeated. I sure am going to miss the dinners!

18 May 2019

Today was super exciting! We visited Giverny, France which is the home of Claude Monet and his gardens. Monet is one of my favorite artists, so I was more than pleased to see the place that was his inspiration. The bus ride was 4 hours each way but it was well worth it. The first half of the day was spent in the museum looking at some of his pieces and water-lilly piece. They were absolutely breathtaking; I love his use of color and the brushstrokes. It captivated me and I strived to understand the sentiment behind every piece. Our second half of the day was spent in the Japanese Water Garden, the Flower Garden and Monet’s home. Oh my goodness, such a dream come true! It was truly a once in a lifetime experience. There were flowers everywhere, of all different varieties. The house was renovated to look like it did when Monet lived there. A proposal took place while we were there. It seemed fitting for the quiet and peaceful environment. I’m so grateful to have this opportunity! 🌸🌳✨

17 May 2019

Let’s quickly recap this week: first off nothing too exciting is happening around here. I have a bunch of projects and tests coming up, but that’s to be expected at the end of the semester. I got a couple of my tests back from a little bit ago and I did well! There’s a plus side. Other than that, it’s been the same old same old. My French Business teacher is a hot mess, let me tell you. This man is super nice, but he’s too smart for his own good. He’s not able to teach us what he wants us to learn. When it’s time for the test, all of us are confused and in a panic because we have absolutely no idea how to study. My two projects next week, have to be memorized and I have to speak for about 3-5 minutes each (give or take). Not a huge issue, but I’m hoping to have a script so I can start memorizing for Tuesday and Wednesday. Wish me luck! On the bright side we have 1.5 more weeks of class. Thank goodness, I’m ready for summer. I’m not quite ready to leave my adventure but no more school!

12 May 2019

Happy Mother’s Day to all the mommas out there, but especially my momma! Mom you are beautiful and kind but more importantly your courageous, supportive, empowered and generous. You inspire me to be the best version of myself everyday. Thank you for all that you do for me, but especially taking an international flight by yourself to see me. I’m so happy that we had the opportunity to spend time one on one and explore the world together. I love you to the moon and back and cannot wait to see you in 28 days! Have the best day Mom.

11 May 2019

I haven’t written in a little bit, so I’ll do my best to catch y’all up. School is for real picking up, but I’m content with that. It keeps me busy and I love the learning aspect. Even when I’m don’t feel like I’m learning (conversations), I’ve been soaking in all the information. Friday was the day...i finally saw EndGame. Oh my goodness y’all. One,I made it through the whole movie without having to use the restroom and two I didn’t cry until the very end. I’m v proud of myself. Today has been one of my favorite days, because we went to the market with Slyvaine. She fills the time talking about anything and everything. We’ve talked about all the strong women in my life and now she’s become one of them. To her I’m an enigma, lol. She is absolutely one of my favorite people in this world. Her love of adventure and new cultures inspires me, and I hope to continue contact after I leave. After the market I set off to get ahead on homework and then took a break outside. It’s beautiful here

8 May 2019

The month of May in Angers has been bizarre. The weather has been super erratic. It can’t decide whether to be hot or cold. Yesterday there was a summer storm while the sun was still out. Wild. Besides the weather, my own feelings about the semester coming to the end has been out of whack. I’ve enjoyed myself and I know that I’ve grown. I miss home and I know that I am ready to come back, but I’m not quite ready to leave. Angers feels like home. I feel like I’ve been the best version of myself here and I guess the fear is that I will revert to old ways when I get back home. However; I think that’s a worry to have when I cross that bridge. School is full speed ahead. We have final exams in 3 weeks, so all my professors are assigning last minute exams, presentations and other projects. In fact, just yesterday I finished writing a piece for my literature class. It is based on the poetic style of a francophone author. I’m pretty proud of my work, but it was difficult to get my point across

6 May 2019

These past two days have been super productive, thank goodness. I finished writing a take home exam for my literature class that is due Thursday. It’s basically a silent eternal love story that we were asked to create between two characters. This assignment was particularly hard for me because I’m not super creative and I’m not good with talking about love. Anyways, I have accomplished this task, and now all I need to finish is editing. Today I deep cleaned my room. I’m trying to get things in tip top shape, so cleaning before I leave won’t be as much of an undertaking. I’ve also started packing up the rest of my winter clothes, hopefully it warms up soon. It’s only been in the low 60s recently. Tonight, I helped our host mom with dinner and setting the table since she was late getting home. We had some great conversations tonight about the visa process, the Congolese population in Kirksville and my job. I can definitely see my progress in understanding and speaking French. Yay!

4 May 2019

My excursion to Normandy, France was today. Our departure time was at 6:15 in the morning, so it was a pretty early wake up call. Our adventures today took us to the memorial museum at Caen, American Cemetery near Omaha Beach, Omaha Beach, Pointe du Hoc, and the German Cemetery. Everything single place brought the history that I had only heard in books to life. I truly understand the sacrifice that the Allied Forces made on June 6th, 1944 (D-Day). One of the most powerful displays I saw today was the 149 Star Of David Tombstones in the American Cemetery. The day began with rain and clouds but ended with sunshine. It was cold, much like it was on that day so many years ago because of the wind. The beaches were hard to gain control of and so many brave men and women lost their lives. Without them, the world as we know it would look much different. We have lived in a relative time of peace, but that may change. I can only hope that the world has learned from the sacrifices that were made

1 May 2019

On Wednesday I didn’t have school, which was a blessing in disguise. I was able to get ahead in some of my classes. Things are getting crazy at school, with all of the projects and tests that are being assigned. I can’t believe how fast this semester has gone by. Just wow. We bought some strawberries at the market on Wednesday and they were fantastic! I’m so happy that they are in season now, because it’s one of my favorite fruits. Yesterday in my French literature class, I learned about this francophone writer Edouard Glissant who is absolutely powerful. In his writing he calls for the protection of all languages because they are unique to our cultures. Without these diverse languages, everyone won’t have their own unique perspective to give to the world. His writing mirrors my own opinion of the world and how we should do more to encourage diversity. Our dinner last night was galettes (salty crepe) with and egg, ham and cheese plus a salad. It was delicious!

30 April 2019

Nothing too special has been happening over here in Angers. I’m just trying to soak it all in, especially the little moments with my host family. Michaela and I made the family ribs for dinner on Monday night. Let me tell you, it was a hit, so much so, that they’ve asked us to make it again before we leave. The dinner table was alive and full of conversation and teasing. Specifically towards me since I don’t drink alcohol at dinner usually. Today I had my second test in my speaking skills class. I think it went well. So yay for that! I have a lot due in the next couple of weeks, so I’m trying to get a head start tomorrow since I don’t have class. This week is Sigma Kappa’s senior week, which is bitter sweet since my big is moving on to bigger and better things in her life. Sad to see her go, but excited for her future. This just continues to remind me that I will be a senior here soon. But I was able to talk to Kali, Nua and Makayla which is always so nice to hear the tea from home.

28 April 2019

Bordeaux is beautiful and has a different feel to it. There are so MANY people, probably because it’s a bigger city. Besides the point, it has interesting old architecture and shops that cater to all different nationalities. We walked from our very nice Air bnb to the tourism office. A little bit away from the office was a huge square with a big fountain and a flea market right next to it. It almost looked like a fair back home with the amount of food that was sold and antique stands. Our next stop was the mirror of water. In the summer and without much wind it really truly looks like a mirror. The weather was not in our favor really yesterday. It’s windy, cold and sometimes cloudy, so we weren’t able to see the whole effect. We headed back to the tourism office to be picked up for our wine tour. We were taken to two chateaux which in Bordeaux means vineyards. It was super cool to see the vines and here about the different processes of the wine making process. All in all it was great!

26 April 2019

Lots of updates are needed since I haven’t been as diligent on this. On Wednesday this week, the dog, Vodka, wasn’t doing too hot. Michaela and I went down for breakfast the next morning and I had a feeling that something big was happening. I was right. The living room was filled with people, our host parents, their oldest son sitting next to his dog and another man who I assumed was the vet. Vodka passed away that morning, which was very sad for all involved because she was such a gentle creature. I felt really bad for our host mom, it seemed like she took it the hardest. The house feels kind of empty without Vodka in it to greet us every time we come back from school. On a whole different note, I finally saw Captain Marvel, and it was AMAZING! That woman is badass. I could relate to her so much, so I enjoyed the movie even more. Friday we hopped on a train to Bordeaux to discover yet another beautiful city and it had to offer us. The train rides were a little strange but we arrived!

24 April 2019

Well, the start of classes wasn’t nearly as bad as I was expecting. The grades from the tests I took before the break ended up being okay. (More than okay). School is school but it’s kind of nice to be back to a routine again. I saw my friends Jennifer and Megan and heard all about their adventures to Morocco, Portugal, and Spain. Hopefully I’ll be able to travel to those countries when I come back to Europe. That’s my goal at least. I think the best part about being back in Angers is spending time with my host family. On Monday our host dad shared stories and pictures from his week in Iceland with his daughter. Dinner this week has kind of been a mess with a bunch of people talking at once. It makes me feel like I’m at home with my family. I’m so blessed to have been placed into this home. They are my home away from home and I will be eternally grateful for their lessons. I’m looking forward to spending as much time as I can before I leave. This relationship will make leaving hard.

22 April 2019

Guess what today is? It’s my Mom’s Birthday!! Happy Happy Birthday to one of the strongest women I’ve ever known. I hope you are having the best day, and maybe a little bit of rest after our adventure through Europe. I wouldn’t be the person that I am today without your influence. Mom, you’re intelligent, empowered, beautiful, incredibly generous and compassionate. You love fiercely and unconditionally. You’ve taught me to be strong but also to know when to ask for help. One of the best lessons I’ve learned from observing you is to put your best foot forward. It doesn’t matter what happened two minutes ago, it matters how you take that situation and learn from it. You and Dad have provided me with SO many incredible opportunities to grow and learn. I’m so grateful for the all of the time and love you have given us without hesitation. You have shown me the woman that I want to become. I only hope that I can be half the woman that you are one day. I love you to the moon and back Mom! ❤️

20 April 2019

It’s been a relaxing past two days. I’ve caught up on some sleep, and took the time for some self-reflection I guess. It sounds weird to me as I type it out, but it was definitely needed. The more and more time I spend abroad, the person I want to be becomes clearer. I know that certain aspects of my personality has changed in both good and bad ways. However, I truly hope that I’ve gained the confidence to continue to strive in everyday life. This year has been a curve ball, and it wasn’t what I was expecting, but maybe the unexpected is exactly what I needed. This journey showed me different sides of myself that I never knew existed. (Yes that includes spontaneity, who would’ve thought). I’ve learned not to be afraid to make mistakes, because making mistakes is the only way you truly learn. I’m actually taking care of myself..and stepping away when I need too instead of trying to solve other people’s problem. I guess I just gained a lot of self-awareness over the past couple of months

18 April 2019

Here I am sitting in the airport waiting on my train to Angers after dropping my Mom off. Damn, it was bittersweet. I’m so eternally grateful that she took the time, money and energy to come to France for me. I’m going to miss her but I know that I’ll see her soon. Anyways... a thank you of sorts... Thank you Mom (and Dad) for making this trip possible. I’ve had the best time experiencing new cultures and places with you. We’ve navigated every mishap that has come our way with more grace that I thought possible. Thank you for allowing me to take the lead and truly show you around Europe. I know it wasn’t easy for you, but I appreciate that you let me make this trip special. We did it Mom! We went to 4 different countries on buses, trains, trams and the metro. Wow, for two people that don’t take public transportation often...that’s a lot. Thank you for being a piece of home for me, it’s exactly what I needed to enjoy my last 7 weeks abroad. That being said I miss you already. Love you ❤

17 April 2019

I jam packed everything “French” into today. This morning we took a walk to a nearby bakery for mom’s first Parisien chocolate croissant. Then we went to the Seine, where we people watched and ate our morning treats. The Louvre was next...we hit the Mona Lisa, Nike, Liberty Leading the People, etc. 3 hours were spent in this beautiful museum and we were really able to learn about the art all around us. I think it’s super important to really analyze a piece of work, instead of just merely passing by. After our trip to the Louvre, we went to a nearby café, which had specific French specialties that I wanted mom to try before she left. We shared a Croque de Monsieur and Quiche de Loraine. The verdict... very good. Then we successfully navigated the metro to the Eiffel Tower for a boat cruise, with beautiful views because of the blue skies. The metro brought us back, and we grabbed a couple of crepes for dessert. I think we were both trying to soak in the last bit of our time together. 💕

16 April 2019

Mom and I arrived in France last night at 9:38. Notre Dame was still up in flames and I am devastated. I can’t believe it. The fire continued into the night. Our taxi driver was telling me all about it in French and I was just in shock. Mom and I made the most of our day today though. We walked past the Notre Dame and really took in the damage. The spire and roof completely collapsed and rebuilding will take lots of time, money and may not be a replica. The style hasn’t been used in hundreds of years. We took a hop on hop off tour. I took Mom to see the Eiffel Tower, Trocadero, Camps-Elyses, Arc de Triomphe, Sacre Coeur to name a few. We honestly had a blast and I got to show her what Paris is all about. We covered a lot of ground today, but we still have so much more to go tomorrow. I’m excited to see her the quieter side and typical French dishes. The differences she’s noticed are: the smokers, bakeries, bikes, traffic/bad driving, etc. Last full day together tomorrow, which is sad.

6 April 2019

Mom leaves the States TODAY!!! Ahhh, please send all the prayers, good vibes and luck that you can. I know she’s nervous about the plane and I was too on my first international flight. She’s gonna do great. I’m SO EXCITED!! I get to show mama how Europeans travel. I’m hoping that my traveling skills are up to par, if they’re not, we’ll just go with the flow. Today has been a super great day. Michaela and I went to the market with our host mom, who wasn’t originally going to go but decided to go with us. She literally bought artisan chocolate for us to share. She is super fun and was talking to me about the twins in her family because we saw some in a stroller on the street. She keeps telling me to stop worrying about my mom’s arrival and that everything should be fine. She also says to tell my mom that my host dad is scared of planes too. At around noon, Alain and Sylvaine invited us all down to share chocolate, strawberries and pear cider. It was so cute and melted my heart. ❤️💕✨

5 April 2019

Alright so today has been a lazy day. I went to bed pretty late, I haven’t been sleeping so well lately. However, today was my last day of class before break!!! It was over with by 10 o’clock so I came back and relaxed until about 12:30. At 12:30 Michaela and I walked to the supermarket to buy snacks for Sunday when our parents arrived in Europe. Then we went to the Japanese boulangerie to grab some lunch. Thursday I had two tests. Cross your fingers that they went well, because I’m not sure. I’m just praying that I’ll be able to bring back good grades so it won’t affect my GPA that much. This week I talked to Kali and Nua and they gave me the run-down of things happening back at home. The phone calls are a great way for me to still feel connected to back home. I feel like I’m drifting away from the person I was before I fam and I’m not sure how people will react. Otherwise, I think all that I can plan for my mom’s trip has been planned. I am anxiously awaiting her arrival!!!!!

3 April 2019

Okay so today I’m super tired and I don’t feel like myself. I think that my body really needs this break to happen soon. I got the tests back today and they actually went okay. I’m going to keeping working hard but I think bringing back a couple A’s might be possible. Yesterday was the day I went to a school in Vivy. My host family there had two boys Noah (11) and Ylan (8). They were both super cute but very different. Ylan has a ton of energy while Noah was more subdued. They both told me I spoke really well, which made me feel a whole lot better. I think I’m improving more than I thought. It was a pretty great day but towards the end I was exhausted and had enough of the “drama”. Lol, I am not cut out to work with small children. It’s just not possible. I’ll be sticking with middle school students or high schoolers. Mom and I have some more solid plans with traveling, I’m hoping everything will be completely planned before she leaves. Wish me luck with the rest of today, I need it.

1 April 2019

Sunday was daylight savings time over here in France. It was more difficult than normal because I lost an hour of sleep right before I had a super early train. Everything turned out okay. When I got home, I got to work trying to prepare myself for this upcoming week; full of three tests, finalizing plans and packing. The test was one that was hard to study for, and I’m worried about how I did. I’m not sure that I was as prepared as I should have been, but oh well. I’m sure it will all turn out okay, I’m just not sure how my grades will transfer back to Truman. Today was April Fools day but it’s something about a fish in French. The kids in elementary school make fish and tape it on each other’s backs as a “joke”. At 5pm, I left Angers to go to Vivy where I would be staying at another host family’s house for the night. Everyone in CIDEF was required to go to elementary schools around the area and share their culture with the students. I am stressed because I didn’t get a lot of info.

30 March 2019

What a day today has been, carpe diem and all that jazz, ya know? We seized the day at around 9am to walk around a little bit before the boat tour. The most surprising thing about today was that I did not get sick while on the boat, so it was a win for me. The boat was covered and took us through the tiny rivers and canals of the city. It was pretty cool, except that there was this super rude German tour guide; she was not my favorite. Next up, was our food tour that we bought for $14 dollars. We tried specialty beers, wines, liquors, pretzels, gingerbread, and other pastries. It was cool to get a taste of the region and the mixes of French and German culture. I spent the rest of the day exploring and seeing the sights trying to engrain the images into my mind. Strasbourg is beautiful and has so much to offer. I would love to return one day. In case you were wondering, I did get my pretzel, two in fact and there’s a cute video to prove it. Au revoir jusqu’à la prochaine fois!!

29 March 2019

Today has been an adventure, but I’m here in Strasbourg!! The beginning of the day consisted of trying to pack and get ready for the five hour train ride. Michaela and I thought we were sitting together, but we were not which was a shame. She was one seat in front of me and I slept most of the way so it worked out. The view outside the window was absolutely amazing. When we arrived the sun was setting. Strasbourg is like nothing I’ve ever seen before, French and German influences were all around. The signs were in both languages and many people switch back and forth. We are staying in the old historic center of town and I feel transported back in time. After we got settled into our room, Michaela and I decided to wander around the town. The sights were beautiful at night, so I’m sure they’ll be 10x more beautiful in the morning. I can’t wait to experience all Strasbourg has to offer in the next couple of days. I’m really looking forward to the food....especially a pretzel. 🥨🍻

28 March 2019

So I’m a little behind on this blog. Time seems to be getting the best of me lately. Wednesday and Thursday I was trying to get as much finished as possible since I was going away for the weekend. Classes are really starting to pick up, especially since the break is coming up very soon. I have three tests next week alone, which doesn’t count all the time I’ve spent reading L’étranger by Albert Camus or all of homework assigned. I know I’m learning a lot, but I’ve been pretty busy lately. I was so exhausted on Wednesday but pretty excited because my planning for my mom’s trip is almost complete. On Thursday, half of Angers was shut down because the president, Emmanuel Macron came to town. No one is sure why not even our professors, but the city center was completely closed off because of protests. I needed to stay in anyways to complete as much as possible before my literature class. After dinner, I got to call Kali, which was super nice because I hadn’t heard from her in awhile.

26 March 2019

I registered for classes yesterday. It doesn’t seem real that I’m going to be a senior. You never really listen to people when they say that time flies. I wish I could go back in time and enjoy everything for what it was, but then I wouldn’t be the person I am today without those lessons. It was a little weird registering for classes here in France. It was a day to catch up with Michaela and catch up on sleep as well. At dinner, my host Dad was teasing me about going to Barcelona and speaking Spanish. As always, it was a nice change of pace. This morning I had a test in my business class, it was awful. Everyone thought that it was super hard. Seriously, he makes one of my professor at Truman look like the best professor on the planet. It’s that bad, he’s so smart but isn’t able to teach us anything. I really hope that the test goes better than expected, but honestly I don’t know. Right now I’m hoping to not have as much homework so I can book things for my mom’s trip. Wish me luck!

22 March 2019

The fam came to Angers!! It was a perfect, sunny and warm day. We really lucked out on the weather. I was able to show them my home and then we trekked our way to the castle by going through the city center. I’m so happy that they could see my city, well that’s how I think of it. I think that they were pleasantly surprised. They also brought my spring clothes and some treats with them and I couldn’t be more grateful. As of right now, I am on my first solo train ride. I’m going to CDG to meet them on the plane to Barcelona. I have a connection in about 40 minutes and then I’ll have to navigate the airport on my own. I have confidence that I’ll be able to figure it out, and if i can’t, i can always ask for help. Well I made it, my first solo train ride with a connection is complete. I made it through security at the airport with no issues and they told me what to do in French, yay! Barcelona here I come!

20 March 2019

The past two days have been super busy. It doesn’t feel like it’s the middle of the week at all. I honestly can’t believe I’m already half way through my semester. It’s been at least 7 weeks since I left home, but France has become home very quickly. I’ve fallen into a routine and have created friendships. My relationship with host parents has gotten stronger, which is amazing. I didn’t think a host family could be like this so I hope that it doesn’t change much, well except for the better. My host dad is great, we’re like two peas in a pod. At least that’s what my host mom says. She’s super cute and always willing to help. I had two huge presentations this week, but I think they went well. I also received two tests grades back and I did very well by French standards. It just goes to show you that immersing yourself in the country/culture drastically improves your speaking skills. I’m meeting my grandparents, Aunt Michelle and Tommy at the train station tomorrow. Angers, be ready!

18 March 2019

Sunday... wow what a day of rest but it shouldn’t have been. I was up early as usual, since my body now has an internal alarm clock. I was able to get my daily exercise in, because we went to the supermarket to pick up some things for dinner. The walk always helps clear my head and the weather has been lovely lately. I haven’t had ice cream in 7 weeks and for anyone who knows me well, knows that it’s a travesty, so I literally ate a pint of ice cream for lunch. Let me tell you, it was well worth it. As dinner was finishing up our host parents arrived and we informed them of some things we had noticed and asked a couple of questions. They were super nice about everything and were very helpful. Today was a very productive day... I have two oral tests this week, so wish me luck! Part of my family is coming to Angers later this week, so I made sure that my room looks nice and neat. I can’t wait to see them!! Michaela and I made banana bread for our host family and it went over so well.

16 March 2019

Friday consisted of a whole lotta planning. I was trying to get as much done as possible, so It would be less stressful for my mom. Let’s hope it is! Besides that, my goal was to get homework done so that on Sunday I could relax. On Saturday morning we woke up at the crack of dawn, because we had our last excursion with the school until May. Our excursion was a visit to the châteaux de loire, in total, I visited 3 different castles. It was super cool because I took a French history class freshman year that delved deeper into the architecture of the first and last castle that I saw. The first castle Chenonceau was gifted to King Henry the second ‘s mistress Diane de Poitiers. It is a well-furnished castle l, which is a sight that isn’t seen often. It was saved because of WOMEN, how cool. I saw da Vinci’s tomb at the Castle of Amboise. The last stop was the grand and elegant Castle of Chambord. I’m still in awe of its size. Also, I’m starting to feel as if I have a niche here, yay!!

14 March 2019

Thursday’s are rough. I’m not quite sure why, but they are. However it’s ~314~ day so I’m missing my city. The Lou is the best place to be. Thursday’s aren’t so bad all the time, I took a 30 minute walk to clear my head and come to terms with my thoughts. I ate a huge salad with grilled chicken for dinner, so I’m feeding my body some good nutrients. The day ended well with a phone call to my pal Caleb, followed by a phone call from my bff Nua. Grateful to talk to them and hear about their lives, no matter how “boring” it might seem. Those conversations were exactly what I needed to wake up on a more positive note today. I have an 8 am class on Friday, but honestly it helps me to be productive throughout the day. I came home wide awake and took the time to relax for an hour before I started planning my spring break. My mom is coming to Europe for the first time and we are going to be experienced travelers by the time she leaves. I think we’ll get to 5 countries together, I’m very happy!

12 March 2019

Okay y’all the past two days have been nothing but studying. I had a presentation today in my French business class that I had to memorize and a huge exam in my writing skills class. I think they both went well, but man, I am soooo tired. Tuesday’s are just not my day even though I dress up to make myself feel better. It seems like I’ll have at least two tests every week if not more until the end of the semester. Honestly, I’m grateful to have some kind of routine. I really have improved so much since we’ve been here. I am able to accurately articulate my thoughts. My sentence structure and conjugations are a work in progress as always. On Saturday a new host student arrived and I’ve basically been the translator since then. It’s been an interesting time and the situation is quite odd. They seem to be having more culture shock than most people. They are wanting to make demands that I’m not comfortable translating, so there is some tension there. But it’s giving me practice, so it’s ok

10 March 2019

Tours was my most recent stop in France, and it was GORGEOUS! Gorgeous in an old medieval way. The old part of the city hasn’t been touched much and it was like stepping into a fairytale land. Michaela and I got a map from the tourism center and then proceeded to wander around. That’s the best part about traveling...getting lost. We saw the Hôtel de Ville, Basilique of St. Martin of Tours, place plumereau, the castle, all that’s left of a building..a wall, the tunnel where people walked to the guillotine, etc. Most of the recommendations were from this pretty cool man that we met in a chocolate shop. I love sharing stories and hearing about other people’s adventures. Tours definitely had a different feel to it..a good one. Today I met our new student, Daniela. She’s from the Czech Republic and speaks no French, but pretty good English. I was her translator at breakfast and dinner which made things a bit easier for her and my host parents. I’m excited to show her around Angers!

8 March 2019

Today is International Women’s Day!! This day reminds me of all the wonderful women in my life, but especially the one who raised me, my momma. My mom is my role model. She models responsibility and empathy for everyone around her. My Maw-Maw gives me the best advice and shows me that I shouldn’t take life too seriously, I should laugh more. My Grandma Marie shows me that life is an adventure, I need to go live it. My Aunt Carey to me is a kind and gentle soul, but boy does she know how to have fun. She shows me that sometimes you just gotta dance. My Aunt Mandy is a mover and a shaker, she’s strong and determined. She shows me to not let life get me down. My Aunt Michelle reminds me to keep pushing forward, to find my passions in life. My Aunt Sarah is calm cool and collected- she provides a compassionate heart. My great grandmas who shared their love and wisdom (and the love of purple). To them and to all the other women, in my life, thank you for making me strong and confident. 💕✨

6 March 2019

I’m starting this post today since some pretty interesting things have happened. Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s are awful. I’m sitting in class for at least 6 hours...ugh. Anyways, my French professor (he’s 22, it’s weird) in my oral expression class was explaining what the word alien meant. He literally acted like he was E.T and said “téléphone maison” or “phone home in English”. It had me dying. Also, at dinner tonight my host parents complimented me on how respectful and kind I am. It was so nice to hear that they like hosting me. They said that they heard a lot of stereotypes so they were nervous hosting two American students; but they couldn’t have asked for better. Slyvain et Alain sont très géniales. Also I’ve been in Angers for a MONTH now!! Today was the death of me. My French business teacher is horrible, and he makes me so mad. That’s besides the point. I got my test back and I did well, so that’s exciting. Alain’s Birthday was today, he’s 61 but you wouldn’t be able to tell.

4 March 2019

The past two days have been pretty chill. I haven’t done a lot lately. I had a test early this morning, so yesterday I spent most of the day preparing for that. The test wasn’t hard, but the grading scale is so different here. All of the tests are just out of 20 points and it is unheard of to get higher than an 18 out of 20. All of the final grades are really just based on three tests throughout the semester. This is super nerve wracking to me since I do NOT test well at all. That is something I have always struggled with, so I will be interested to see how well I prepare for the tests. I’m so used to writing papers in French instead of tests that this will be quite the adjustment. I’ve also started preparing to register for classes next semester, it’s coming up. I’m in disbelief that I will be a SENIOR. OMG, that’s so crazy, it feels like I’m still a freshman at times. Anyways, I am way past 120 credits and I still have at least 16 to take each semester. Start the prayers now, please!

2 March 2019

My 2nd excursion was today, I’ve figured out that I won’t have a free weekend until the very end of May. Apparently I like to keep myself super busy and there’s just too much to see. Today, I had to wake up around 6 to be at the school by 7 this morning. The excursion today was to Saint Malo and Mont-Saint-Michel. Both places are on the coast of Northwest France. Saint Malo was gorgeous. It’s still a walled city, very few are left in France. Not only is it a walled city, but it is also so freaking close to the ocean. The beach hits the walls. It was breathtaking and the sun came out of the clouds. Mont-Saint-Michel was just as cool, because it’s a monastery on an island. Basically it gets isolated during high tide and no cars can come in or out. We got our exercise in for the week because of all the stairs we had to conquer. The views were just as incredible as they were in Saint Malo. I’m enjoying my time exploring new cities and getting lost in the magic of them.

28 February 2019

On another side note: Sunday I was able to talk with Maw-Maw and Paw-Paw , which was great because I hadn’t heard from them. It was good to see Paw-Paw doing so well after his surgery. I even got to talk to all of the Siegel kiddos and see Aunt Carey briefly. That was THE best part of my day, because they all had a story to share, even Mr. Dempsey. I could feel the love through the phone. I’m hoping to get a hold of those Muyco kiddos soon. Today- I talked to Grandma and Grandpa for the first time since I left home. It was really good to see them and hear that Grandma’s surgery went well also. I’m so glad that we have WhatsApp, in this technology driven age. I’m so excited for them to come with Aunt Michelle and Tommy to Angers. I can’t wait to show them my city and what I typically do during a day. Even better, I’ll spend the better part of the weekend with them. Hoping to call the Marcinkiewicz and Post kids soon, see if my postcards made it.
Can you believe it’s almost March?!? Literally an hour from now. I’ll have been Angers for almost a month, that’s crazy. This place has become home rather quickly, I have established a routine of sorts. Wednesday’s are one of my longer days, but I managed to go to the market to buy some groceries in my small break. The market, once again, is freaking awesome. My lunches have been filled with fresh fruits and veggies and I couldn’t be happier. School is picking up now and I have a test next week. I’m nervous, but I also think I’m going to surprise myself at how much I really know. I have a lot of tests and projects coming up but I also have so many adventures. The month of March is super busy for me, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. This weekend we are hitting up Mt. Saint Michel, the following weekend Tours, then the châteaux de Loire, I’ll see my grandparents, aunt and cousin the weekend after that in Spain and the last weekend Michaela and I are going to Strasbourg. Adventures!!

26 February 2019

My favorite guy in the whole world is one year older today. HAPPY BIRTHDAY DAD!! I hope you have the best day, you certainly deserve it. I’ve been reflecting on all the life lessons that you’ve given me. I don’t think I would be the person I am today without everything you’ve taught me. You’ve taught me to love with my whole heart and to make the most of every situation. You’ve taught me how to buckle down and study, but also how to have fun. I’ve learned how to be responsible from your work ethic. You’ve been my biggest role model and I hope to be half the teacher you are one day. You are my biggest inspiration in helping people and being their beacon of hope. You’ve created a space where I could be myself always, and now I have no fear of being who I am in public. You’ve made me a strong, independent and empowered woman and I cannot thank you enough. I was truly blessed with the best dad. I love you to the moon and back! 💕❤️😘

25 February 2019

The past couple of days have been ones of recuperation. Mondays, there isn’t a whole lot to do since I only have one class. But, I cleaned my room, washed dishes, did my laundry and changed my sheets. The more chores I can get done on Mondays, the better I am all week long. Around 7 we went down to dinner early like we always do to watch a French tv show with our family, this time our host sister joined us. She is leaving on Thursday to study abroad in Iceland. She doesn’t normally eat dinner with us, so I was interested to see how that would change the dynamic. Our host family’s middle son also came to dinner (he eats with us twice a week). For some reason our host sister was not happy about it. They bickered the whole dinner; it was refreshing to see a “sibling fight” persay since I miss the ability to do that with mine. Because he was there that took most of the attention away from us, which was nice for a change. I was able to call my sorority fam last night too! Love my 🦒 fam 💕

23 February 2019

Our weekend of traveling continued. Michaela and I hauled our butts out of bed this morning at 6:45 to get ready for our train ride to Nantes. It’s about a 45 minutes train ride from Angers, so we were set to make the day an adventure. When we arrived we first stopped at their beautiful castle. (I think that’s 6 so far just this trip). The castle, in my opinion, is one of the best ones I’ve seen. It even had a small moat around the outside. The inside of the castle had the museum of Nantes, which was super interesting since Nantes is a port city. We were able to fill our minds with history that I hadn’t even heard of before. We took a look at the “jardins” which is very similar to forest park. It definitely reminded me of home. Afterwards we found a place to eat in a small but busy alley. Hamburgers for the first time since we left home!! Now for the not so fun part... the protests from the “Gilet Jaune” were happening today. It was a sight to see, but no worries, we stayed safe.

22 February 2019

Okay y’all, I went out last night...a horrible mistake before my 8am. I was fine, just sooo tired. It was definitely a class to power through, but we made it. My teacher talked about our test that is coming up, wish me luck because tests are truly not my thing. Anyways, today is our first excursion!! Literally I’m so excited to see more of France. You have no idea. The first stop is a little village that used to house people who lived in caves. No one lives there any longer (last person was in the 1970s), but it was such an amazing place. Neither pictures nor words can capture it. (Musée troglodyte). The next stop was to a winery (in a cave) to see what the production looks like. Two more stops left, one to Castle Saumur, which was absolutely breathtaking. It’s more modern than the other castles I’ve seen, so I was more than excited. Finally we ate dinner in a cave, where most of the dishes were mushroom based since that’s the product the area is known for. (Mom you would’ve hated it!)

20 February 2019

Side note: just wanna say that this week has reminded me that I have some pretty great people in my life. My family is there for me always, it’s so nice to know that I can call whenever. Both sets of grandparents sent me a card, and I’m hoping to call them soon. My aunts and uncles have been checking in which is nice because I love the updates from home. On top of that, most everyone has downloaded WhatsApp to contact me which is a blessing. So much love for all the people in my life. ❤️💕😘
Oh my gosh, yesterday and today are my long days. I spend at least 6 hours in class on Tuesday and 5 hours in class on Wednesday. I think the biggest adjustment is to the 2 hour long classes. It’s something that people from the States aren’t used to having everyday. I’ve had three hour long classes on Mondays but that was the only time that class met. Anyways, we ate lunch with our friend Aoi who is Japanese and our friend Lindsey who is Canadian. We’re definitely learning about cultures, which has been my favorite part about being here. People who are English speaking, are usually the minorities in the classroom, which has given me a different perspective. I hope that will help me better connect with my students later on in my career. Finally finished with class today. Michaela and I took Aoi to a Japanese’s boulangerie for lunch and she was so happy! She said it tasted like home. I got a card in the mail from my grandparents and opening it felt like home. Can’t wait to see them soon.

18 February 2019

Yesterday we went to the Art museum here, which was pretty cool. The museum is in a really old mansion, I’m almost positive it’s the largest house in Angers. There is a cute garden right outside where Michaela and I had lunch. We brought food to eat with us, so that we could enjoy the fresh air. It’s been pretty warm here, in the 50s, so I’m glad I’m here and not back in Kirksville. After the museum we explored the city a bit more, which is always an adventure. I love being able to get lost here, because I know I’ll always find my way back. Today began our first real week of classes. On Mondays I only have class from 9-11:15, which is nice. After class, I went home and finished my homework. Then I spent the rest of the day doing laundry, vacuuming and preparing for the next day. It was pretty non-eventful until dinner. Dinner with the family is always interesting, especially when their middle son eats with us. We had a Korean dish, which is something I’ve never had before.

16 February 2019

The past couple of days have been full of exploring Angers. I finally have gotten into the swing of things in my classes. I’m hoping that will give me some form of structure. Anyways, after class on Friday I was playing catch up on some homework, since my classes had been switched. After I finished, Michaela and I set off to the castle in town. How cool is it that I actually live in a place with a war castle? We didn’t end up going inside on Friday but we did find some pretty historic places in Angers, like the oldest house. On Saturday, our goal was to explore the castle and all that it had to offer. However, that had to wait until after we went to the market. The market here is amazing, with cheap prices and supporting French farmers, who could ask for better than that. We walked off our lunch while walking past “le centre ville to the château” (yes this phrase is a mix of French and English). The castle was beautiful inside, the views were amazing, and the tapestry is one of a kind

14 February 2019

Y’all Valentine’s Day is like not a thing here, and lemme fell ya...I couldn’t be happier. It’s such a Hallmark holiday, one that I believe should be celebrated everyday. Just make sure the people you love know that you love them, whether it’s by doing little things or just telling them. It’s just so superficial and most people here don’t make a big deal out of it. It’s kind of refreshing. Anyways, my friend and I chose to do a date night anyways, to celebrate the first week of classes almost being over with. Wish us luck at our 7:45am class. It’s gonna be something else. Nothing too major to report, I’m starting to get into the swing of things. I’m really enjoying me time here and living each day like it’s my last. Maybe it’s cliché but I’ve already felt like there’s been a change within me. I feel like a whole new person; who is learning to roll with the punches and loving being on her own. It’s so liberating not having ties back to the States besides family. It’s exactly what I need

12 February 2019

So the past couple of days have been stressful as all get out. My classes were all switched around and the people at CIDEF were not helpful at all. Anyways, I am being moved up to get the classes I need and what I originally tested in to. I have to go to the school early tomorrow morning to get my placement changed, because the language class starts at 9am, which is hour later than the class I had today. I’m feeling a lot better about classes because I know my credits will transfer. Now it’s time to buckle down and get to work, so I can stay on top of my grades. Stay tuned, we’ll see how this change goes...to be honest, it was unavoidable. Last night I was able to do laundry in the first time in forever, bless up. Clean clothes... thank goodness. Most people in Angers do not use their dryer, fun fact. Tonight at dinner our host mom fed us a bunch of food. The portions were so big that I couldn’t finish it. They thought I was sick, so I had to explain and we had a good laugh over it.

10 February 2019

This weekend I’ve allowed myself time to recharge that I so desperately needed after traveling the week before hand. However, the last couple of days have been gloomy with lots of wind and rain. We do not have our student cards yet, so we are waiting to visit the castle and museums next weekend (because it’s free). This morning..breakfast began with an interrogation on our knowledge of French singers and actors. I’ve realized that I need to start listening to more French music than I normally do, but I probably won’t pay attention to actors. I don’t even do that in the States, so that won’t change. Michaela and I walked to the city center to the movie theatre, which besides churches and a few restaurants is the only thing open on Sundays. We saw “My Beautiful Boy”, which was heartbreaking. Seeing the turmoil that drug addicts and there families go through and realizing that pot is a gateway drug for some users... Anyways, I’ve begun my quest of a Harry Potter marathon all in French!

9 February 2019

So I’ve already failed at my promise to update this everyday. However the last two days has just been me exploring the city with a couple of friends. Yesterday, we went to the city center to a couple of stores. This helped me figure out how to get around the city and what the fastest routes might be. Anyways, today my host mom took us to the French market that happens every Sunday and Wednesday. It’s so freaking cool, there are a bunch of vendors selling: fruits, vegetables, sea food, cheese, red meat, chicken, eggs, clothes, belts and there was even one booth selling mattresses. Michaela and I got a ton of practice speaking and listening to the French around us. Anyways, our host mom told us about a crêperie for lunch. After lunch, we went to the grocery store to stock up on snacks and food for tomorrow since everything here is basically closed on Sundays. I’m feeling a bit under the weather but I feel a little better since we took it easy today. Hoping to explore more tomorrow!!

7 February 2019

In the next couple of days and weeks, I’ll be updating this everyday. However, I do not think there will be a ton that will change. Right now, I’m working on getting into a routine and figuring out how to get around. Angers is so calm and tranquil. The people are kind and most don’t speak English so it forces you to interact in French. I went to school today, but it was basically like an orientation. They split us into groups by our last names, which allowed for people to get to know one another. Each group finished at different times. My group had a huge break before 1:30. It turned out well for me, since I met a French student by the name of Anna. She spoke fluent English but also allowed me to practice my French. She gave me her information so we can hang out and practice both languages. I also met three French students at the bar tonight, and they were cool as well. There was more of a language barrier with them, but I’m excited to continue to have convos with native speakers.

6 February 2019

Falling asleep in a new place always takes me awhile and last night was no different. However, I felt pretty well rested, when I went downstairs for breakfast. Breakfast was nice, but I’m hoping to eat a little bit more tomorrow so I’m not as hungry throughout the day. At 9am we went to the university which is less than a 2 minute walk across the street to take our placement tests. As we should’ve expected, the test didn’t start until 9:30. The French are not timely. It was brutal but I placed in b 1.2 which is what I need to transfer over credits. We had to take a writing portion after lunch, so I’m hoping that didn’t bring my placement down. After that test, we went on a walking tour around Angers, to kind of get familiar with it. I’m really excited to go explore this gorgeous town that has a castle, multiple museums, and authentic French cuisine. Most people here do not use cars, instead they walk, bike or use the tram or bus. It’s quite different. I’ll keep you posted on the family

5 February 2019

Finally made it!! Angers is a freaking dream come true. Y’all this beats my expectations 100%. The town is quaint but has so much charm. My host family’s house is literally across the street from the university that I’m going too. I can walk everywhere, thank goodness!! I’ll be able to get my exercise in. I’m living on the top floor of the house, I’ll have to upload pictures tomorrow, in the daylight. The room I have is huge! Anyways, the host family is nice. The parents Alain and Sylvaine remind me of my family. The dad is nice but loves to tease. He told me if i didn’t pass the test tomorrow I’d have to get out, lol. The mom is very thorough and doesn’t mess around. She’s cute and wants to make sure we’re comfortable. They don’t speak English with us, and honestly it is such a RELIEF!! For real, I came to France to learn the language. The family left us alone in the house for awhile and while they were gone their very old dog popped on the couch. It’s been an interesting day I’d say!

4 February 2019

Update for today: today was better than yesterday. I have a feeling it’ll take awhile for France to feel like home, but I’m sure it will. Today we decided to embrace being Americans and took off in tourist style. We took the hop-on/hop-off bus to get around/see the main tourist attractions. The first stop we got off at was the Louvre. A cafe with lots of warmth was the next thing on the agenda. I ate a croque monsieur with a small salad and had a chocolat chaud. Wow, feeling pretty French. We took a photo shoot with the pyramids in front of the Louvre and boi, I think I look classy as hell. Lol, jk. Anyways, we walked up the Arc de Triomphe and we were able to look out over the ledge. It was so cool and something I had never done before. I recreated the photo I took 3 years ago in front of the Eiffel Tower at Trocadéro. We met up with Bridget who was in our French class freshman and sophomore year because she lives in Paris now! We had a great dinner and I’m feeling optimistic for tmr!

3 February 2019

Okay y’all get ready. So first off, today has probably been my only really bad day. Most of this trip has been great! I’ve just been sleep deprived for most of it, because I’m trying to keep a schedule but it’s not working. When y’all are up and talking I need to sleep. I need the interaction though so I’m sacrificing my sleep. It’s fine, once I get to Angers, it’ll be better 100%. However, when we left London the train to get to the small-ass airport (Southend) was closed for maintenance. So we had to figure out if an Uber would take us 1hour and 15 minutes away. Needless to say an expensive trip but our Uber driver was great. The airport was super small but the people were okay. I finally figured out what was triggering my bag to be searched!! There’s my positive note for the day. When we got to France, people immediately switched to English even though we spoke to them in French. It’s a little disheartening and the Gare du Nord was a nightmare. But, I’m looking towards a new day!