Châteaux de La Loire

[Edit: Posted late] I can honestly say that this past weekend visiting La Loire was the most drama-free, calm weekend that I've had in a while. Is that sad? Is that good? But anyway, all that being said, here is a quick run-down.

Four castles. Lots of food and lots of tours. I mean really there’s not much more to be said. I saw where Leonardo Da Vinci was buried! But most of the other details fell through the cracks of my fragile memory... notably the distinctions between Louis the 8th, Henri the 6th, Charles the 8th, Charles the 9th. Why does France purposefully make studying their history so complicated?

One interesting thing that I did retain was that not all of these castles were royal, nor are they currently state-owned necessarily. I could not tell you which ones, but it was interesting to see the differences. Notably, Chambord is huge but has nothing in it (royal, state-owned?). I recognized the interior from a movie that I saw once (Peau d'Âne by Jacques Demy). But my favorite, Chenonceau, was smaller but beautifully decorated on the inside, and everywhere you turned they had an extravagant bouquet of fresh flowers. Probably my favorite part :) 

Here are some pictures. This was a school-sponsored trip for my American program. I was nervous about it, because I don't get to spend lots of time with them so therefore I don't know them super well. But I ended up having an awesome time and getting to know them better... which is good because some of them are my future roommates sooooooooooo yeah. There you have it. 

From a priori to a posteriori: The power of spontaneity

[Originally written on the 22nd of February, 2018]

I would like to begin in the present: I’m wrapped up like a cinnamon bun in fluffy white sheets in Switzerland. This marks night two of my first official solo trip. Well, to some extent my entire college life has been filled with solo trips, but I’ve never quite done a transnational overnight one before. I was excited, I love being alone. I observe and explore better that way.

I am meeting up with friends soon, fortunately. Not to say that’s this hasn’t been an interesting experience, it certainly has. But not devoid of the usual bizarre and crazy things that I always seem to stumble upon. A Swiss mad hatter, a menorah, two potatoes and a bottle of Prosecco. In a 500 year old apartment in Bern, where the ceilings are just barely above my head, The Bee Gees and the soundtrack to Broken Flowers dribble out of a broken record player. Compared to fall break, this is off to a weirder start. Bern was like Ljubljana, but at the very least, slightly less ominous and fishy.

I have actually been finding that this semester is off to a very different start than last. I’ll rewind a bit. Last semester, what I will satirically call a priori, I was begrudgingly devoted to schoolwork that I only marginally understood. If anything could make French academia more complicated, it’s the fact that they love to hop around languages, specifically in the way they throw Latin all over the place just for shiggles. But anyway, I don’t think I was as spontaneous because of schoolwork, well maybe I was. But it wasn’t all for naught, folks, because I just found out I passed all my classes! Setting the bar low but hey, I’m proud of this. 

So fast forward to what I will humbly call a posteriori. Why? Well, I would like to point out that the events that occurred in the a priori period of my year have had a near direct effect on where I’m at now. Yes, that includes being wrapped in a cinnamon bun of fluffy covers. For example, the class-that-shall-not-be-named was emotionally trying, but that experience was ripe not only for comedic material but also — and who woulda thought — for interview material! Being on a timer now, I’m trying to develop this spontaneity thing, and I’ve been better off for it. Last Monday, my class got cancelled so my friend and I last minute booked a trip to Chartres (in English pronounced a bit like Shart, my apologies but this is educational). Basically it was rainy and really fricken cold BUT we got some good laughs. Specifically: breaking into a church under construction to find a stained glass window that said, “Notre Dame du Perpétuel Secours, Priez pour nous”. Now ordinarily this wouldn’t be funny but with nihilist humor and a flair for memes this was gold. Along the same lines we also got a little too close to some castle perhaps because even though it was a Monday (basically everything in france is closed on sundays and mondays for literally no reason at all) I refused to leave without seeing a castle. 

And now I’m in Switzerland. I came here before my winter break begins because there is an exhibition of recovered art stolen by the Nazis that I’ve been itching to see, and it did not disappoint. I know very little about expressionism and bauhaus but I am IN LOVE. But anyway, signing off for now. Just a quick little reflection, hope you enjoyed. I'm hoping that someone – anyone – who took that class is reading this and is laughing, because that's the most important. 

"Province" and other frank stories

I don't know that I've caught up on sleep yet. It's been go-go-go since my week of being dragged through the mud. Almost immediately after my most humiliating presentation ever, I packed up and went to a cottage in, as Parisians call it, "Province", which essentially means anything that is not Paris (smh). 

There were 8 of us: 5 french, 3 not-french. There really is not a proper way to sum it up... For all of my loyal, long-time followers, you'll know what I mean by "Cape Cod: French Edition". To set the scene: a monotone, quaint French village that was crisp and deserted. Not a person to be found. An old stable-thing (?) with a wine cellar and a crystal-blue pool. A large fireplace crackling at all hours. A stack of cards on the farmer's table. Myriad overturned wine bottles. 

We were there three days: One crazy night for me, one quiet night for me, one even quieter, un-planned night (all of France seemed to shut down when there were difficulties at a train station in Paris). 

On the way there, we drove through fields in an older car, whose front window wouldn't roll up, so the cool air nipped at my face as we drove through rows of trees. I saw this in a movie once. We also visited the nearest "city" which had a mini Christmas market where we got hot chocolate and crepes for 1 euro a piece!! Spectacular. But other than this, most of the weekend was spent playing cards around the fire, which is new for me because I'm never inclined to play cards, and it was so refreshing to put the phone away (though I wasn't very consistent with this). 

In terms of food, it quite possibly does not get more French. We had lots of bread and cheese, croissants and brioche, all sorts of wines and champagne, raclette, rillettes, vin chaud... 

But nothing ever happens without drama. Have you seen Masculin, Féminin? Or A Bout de Souffle? I don't know. I don't know. The French are fascinating. 

Anyway, here are some photos!!