Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Lesson 12: French People

I've grown up hearing how much people hate France. I never understood it really. A lot of Americans kind of roll their eyes when the country's name gets mentioned simply because "they're just SO rude." My grandma always talked about how Paris was her least favorite place she ever visited because they were "mean and not helpful." As sweet as the woman is, she also used to refer to Japanese people as those "treacherous slant eyes" because of World War II, so I took what she said with a grain of salt.

Basically, I've always refused to believe that the rude French people stereotype is real....probably just because I'm obsessed with Chanel and Louis Vuitton, but whatevs. So, EARTH TO FREAKING AMERICA...the stupid stereotype ISN'T REAL!

Maybe it was because Vichy is a small town, but everyone was really nice. The people at the grocery store always asked how we were doing. All of my teachers were sweet. The guys at the kebab place always gave us free tea, and they didn't even get mad when I spilled an entire plate of fries on their floor. Oops! We even got free shots on my birthday from the French dude that owned the bar we were at in Geneva. And, when we all dressed up like obnoxious Americans and painted stars and flags on our bodies, no one even said anything rude.

You know, I went almost an entire month without encountering a single rude French person. Almost. Then we decided to go to Versailles. I've talked about the old douche at Versailles a little before, but let me tell you how this went down. It was Jon, Travis, Diana, Lauren and me. We were, obviously, taking pictures because how many times do you get to see the greatest palace ever built in the history of forever? Not very often. I was walking around like a dumbstruck idiot, getting distracted by all the sparkly chandeliers and gold crap. Out of nowhere, this crazy ass wrinkly trick just starts screaming in English at Diana. 

"Hey! I told you to turn off that flash an hour ago! HEY! YOU!"    

Keep in mind we had literally been inside maybe three minutes. This old hag thought that Diana was part of the group of high school students, who were predominately Asian, that she was giving a tour to.

Diana tried to explain to her that she was  mistaken but this fool wasn't having it.

"HEY! I know you speak more than one language! TURN OFF THAT FLASH. Quit disrespecting my country! You are in FRANCE!"

Wow.. thanks for the update, captain. I had no idea I wasn't at home!

Then Travis, who is usually quiet and polite, yells at the woman and tells her to lay off Diana. I don't think she understood this expression, but it left her mumbling and even more cranky. So, it was a success. It really pissed me off because a) her yelling made everyone stare at us   b) we didn't know we couldn't use the flash  c) I almost made it out of Europe without encountering a douchebag

All in all, I guess one rude ass out of how many ever people we were around isn't that bad. I'd probably be mean too if I were 65 and giving tourists tours of Versailles. Oh well.

I still love France.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Lesson 11: In Yo Suitcase and Other Ramblings

I hate packing. Especially for trips that are longer than a weekend, a. because it's annoying and b. because I'm lazy. You gotta have clothes, makeup, phone chargers, the laptop blah blah blah. The list goes on and on. But when you're peacing out to Europe you also need an ADAPTER in that suitcase. This is probably fairly obvious to most of you, but ya never know.

There are many types of adapters out there. Some probably suck more than others, and they usually look like this....

Mine, however, didn't because RadioShack is worthless and they made me buy crap I didn't really need. I had this bulky ass thing that plugged into a thing that looked like the rounded 2-prong converter in the picture.

OU study abroad likes to tell people to go to RadioShack. Don't listen to these fools. These stores usually have greasy looking employees that most likely dropped out of high school. I'm just sayin. They suck balls.

Also, make sure to pay attention to the dang sockets on your adapter. Most of them are two pronged which can be a slight (and by slight, I mean HUGE) problem if your laptop charger HAS THREE PRONGS!!! Fortunately I realized this the night before I peaced out to France, so I could correct the problem. Little did I know that my laptop would refuse to charge, would not get internet service, and slowly die. But that is another tale. Never buy an ASUS laptop.


Thank God I was able to exchange the p.o.s when I returned to the states. I almost got desperate enough to fly to London just to go to Bestbuy. Seriously, you do not wanna have to borrow people's computers all the time. It's super obnoxious and you might stumble upon things you don't want to know about....

I'd recommend going to the Elephant Trunk. I'm pretty sure they have adapters. However, their travel flat irons don't work...in France at least. And if you have a Chi don't try to use it abroad...it'll fry. But if you're in France, Monoprix has cheap flat irons that are decent! Buy one so you don't have to walk around looking like a street urchin. I tried that for a week before I flipped out and decided I HAD TO find a damn flat iron.

Derrick, my ghetto fab unfixed hair, and Jennifer
Also, don't forget an umbrella! It rains a lot more over there than it does here in the south. Be sure to check and see if wherever you're staying provides bedding (usually will), hangers, and towels (not likely).

And don't forget your passport anywhere!!! You don't want that puppy getting sold on the black market.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Lesson 10: La Nourriture

Food. There is nothing better on this planet, aside from lying in the bed chamber all day, than food. Food in Europe can be delicious, and it can be questionable. If you learn not a word of the language in the country you're staying, at least know the God foresaken words for food.

Europeans like to eat weird stuff...like horses and bunnies. Derrick actually ate a rabbit while we were there to try something new. I commend him on this, I mean not many people over here can say they've eaten it. Unfortunately, I have a weak stomach and meat chunks gross me out for the most part. That rabbit looked like Starkist tuna with random green things in it, and smelled equally as vile. He liked it though!

Anyway, I recommend knowing the names of nasty foods so you don't accidentally eat them and want to die. I ordered a seafood pasta in Marseille and there was a baby squid just chillin' there on the side of my lovely dish. Like seriously? Are we in Japan? I should have expected it though, we were practically on the French Riviera. Naturally, I gave the nasty little succubus to Derrick and he had a grand old time with it.

Let me just say it - I like American food better. Why you ask? It has FLAVOR. The food in Switzerland = bomb. The food in France = not so much. Don't get me wrong, they have some amazing stuff - like cheese, omelettes, macaroons, ice cream, kebabs, etc.  All of their desserts are to die for. But, when it comes to real meals...well, nothing can satisfy me quite like Olive Garden and Taco Bueno/Bell.

Another thing against Europe, no one knew what queso was.

 NO ONE KNEW. Seriously, how in the name of all that is holy can one live without QUESO? People were just like...queso? What? Like Spanish for cheese? NO, you morons...like melted cheesy goodness used as a dip for tortilla chips!!! I was dumb founded. America is the greatest country on earth if not only for the fact that we invented queso.

When you think of American food, most people think of McDonald's.

 The vile, carb loading, fake meat using restaurant chain full of booger nosed children and pedophiles. Well, at least that's my impression of it here. It's nasty....except in Europe. McDonald's there is actually, good! I know, shocking right? It tastes like real food and they have real desserts. It was delicious. When you're studying abroad for awhile, you go through "America withdrawals." Out of nowhere, you'll crave a happy meal and Coke and start belting out "Party in the USA." This typically happens toward the last week of your stay. It can be remedied by a healthy dose of Micky D's. They also have Subway and KFC (so random) in bigger cities like Lyon and Paris. The America Withdrawals is a serious issue, friends. It will happen to you, even if you think it won't.

Oh, and the first thing you'll tell your mom when you land in Chicago and can call her?
"Have a mexi-dip and chips, no guac..extra queso and a taco with sour cream waiting for me at that airport."

Disclaimer: McDonald's in the US still sucks, unless you've had a bit too much bubbly. Then it's awesome.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Lesson 9: Take Advantage of the Weekends

The point of study abroad is to see the world! Not to be shut in a classroom 5 hours a day all week. Some of us feel guilty about skipping class back at home (not me), but sometimes you need to ditch the goody goody act and LIVE!

It's not that hard to fit fabulous vacations into a short weekend because of those lovely things called trains. The teachers (in France, at least) are very understanding about letting you skip class to travel. Classes in Europe are pass/fail and the homework is optional (though they will sass you if you don't do it). It's quite fabulous really, aside from having to live off coffee to keep your attention span from dying throughout the long ass school days. Once you get to college, it's real hard to get used to being shut in a building for more than two hours again.

Anyway, tell the teacher when you're peacing out for a mini vacay, which should be every Friday if you're smart. They know that you paid gobs of money to go do fun stuff. I mean seriously, when are you going to be in Europe again? You don't know. So make the most of it.

Train Travel Tips
*Carte 12-25 - If you're in France and you want to travel to fab places like Paris, Marseille, etc. then you need this! The Carte is for people between the ages of 12-25, hence the name, and it gets you discounts of up to 60% on train tickets. It's about 50 euros and it's well worth it in the end!

*Don't forget to get your ticket composted at one of the rando machines in the station before boarding

Places We Went on the Weekends

Pros- really pretty, BEACHES!, Le Chateau D'If, really nice hostiles, amazing seafood, Nutella flavored ice cream
Cons - smelled like eggs in some areas, plethora of gross seagulls

Pros - Cooler weather, gorgeous, great shopping, CHOCOLATE, good bars, badass italian food, energy efficient hotels, the US dollar being worth slightly more than the Swiss franc, lots of British people, neat museums, wine tasting, every person you see is attractive, Voltaire's house
Cons - Um...nothing

Pros - Uh, it's PARIS!, shopping, the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, the Champs-Elysees, Versailles, Moulin Rouge, and EVERYTHING ELSE
Cons -  The rude old French lady that gives Asian kids tours of Versailles. BEWARE. Oh, and don't use your flash on the camera because this douche will scream at you in English. She's senile.


 I loved everywhere that we went, but my fave was definitely Switzerland. It is the most badass country you will ever visit. I'll admit I was kind of disappointed at the thought of going there for my birthday (had my hopes up on Rome) but it was AWESOME! Keep in mind that it's hard to travel to countries that aren't really close by because then you have to take a plane and blah blah blah. It's too much effort, and too much money. Geneva and Paris are definite musts. I'll never understand why so many Americans hate Paris and think it's dirty. I didn't really see anything dirty? Then again, we were only there for one full day on the way back to the good ole US. As long as you attempt to speak in French then everyone is nice. Well, except that crackhead at Versailles but she was clearly mentally unstable.

So, get a group of your friends that are there with you and figure out where you want to go! Pack your bags light (you'll be walking places), get those train tickets and peace the hell out for awhile. You only live once, right?

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Lesson 8: On Dressing American

At orientation before we left, we were given this stupid piece of advice:

"I mean try not to dress like super American or anything. I wouldn't wear shorts. French people just don't wear shorts even if it's hot outside. They'll stare at you."

Excuse me? Did this trick really just tell me not to wear shorts in JUNE?

Okay people, here's my advice. Wear whatever the freak you feel like wearing! You know what? They're going to stare at you no matter what you have on. Like I've said before, the Europeans have staring problems. They WILL know you're American no matter how you dress. Or they'll think you're Italian, Australian, or British. Point is, they know you're foreign. Now is not the time to start acting and dressing like someone you aren't, because then you just look like a damn idiot. You may be a fluent genius in whatever language you're studying, you may even have their accent down perfectly, but you are still from the land of air conditioning and Taco Bell. You are an Amurrrican.

So instead of trying to be a poser, just embrace it! You are making our country look better by actually going abroad and trying to learn another language unlike the rest of our moronic, self obsessed population.

It's true that most people could probably handle being in Europe in June and not wear shorts. But, if you're like me, it's NOT POSSIBLE and you will get cranky and want to shoot someone. If you want to wear those hoochie mama shorts, then by God just do it.

And don't care when people stare at you, it's just what they do. I mean you probably don't want to look like you just shacked at a frat house and haven't brushed your hair in 3 months, but I feel like that's self-explanatory.

Bottom line: Never try to be someone you aren't, because you will look like a douche bag and the rest of your fellow Amurricans will laugh at you behind your back. And that is a promise.

Poster child of the American South