Last Week of Class

Monday night, CEA took us to a going away dinner. We went to a couscous restaurant that served family style. We got unlimited couscous and vegetables, and got to order a meat. After the main course, we picked from two huge plates of desserts, and got a glass of hot mint tea.

There is a chocolate shop that I’ve been to a couple of times this week. The first time, I got a flower pot that had a combination of white, milk, and dark chocolates and also has some candies hidden under the “soil”. The second time, Katie and I got little Eiffel Towers and a chocolate block that says “Merci” to give to our landlord. Our landlord can’t speak English, but has been very kind and helpful to us while we’ve been here.

Today (Wednesday) for comms, our professor took us to the 104, which is basically just a big building for the arts and “la culture”. There was an art exhibition going on, a concert being set up, dancers practicing, a juggler, a bunch of chairs, some cafes, and many other things. My favorite part was the photo-booth. It was very old. We were

unprepared for the first few pictures, but eventually got the hang of it. This evening, we’ve spent hours studying for our calculus final. We take the final tomorrow, and are then free for a day and a half before we come home.


Our Last Weekend (Part 2)

Today (Sunday) we went to Versailles. It took about an hour to get there, and then we waited in line for another hour to enter the castle. The castle was incredibly extravagant, but very crowded. It was hard to enjoy the art and decorations while having to maneuver through all of the people. The gardens were absolutely fantastic, though. When the gardens were made, the central idea was being able to control nature. Because of this, everything is perfectly trimmed and set up in straight lines. There are a bunch of beautiful fountains all over the gardens, some of which were part of a music show. In the middle, there is a large pond that we got to row around in. There are also a large number of restaurants and snack stands. The gardens were much more enjoyable than the castle, and we stayed there for a few hours before coming home to do homework. On the way home, Joseph made friends with an adorable old Australian Couple, and ended up helping them figure out the Metro stations and how to get to the Eiffel Tower.

Our Last Weekend (Part 1)

Friday during our communications class, or professor took us on a walking tour from the Louvre down to Place de la Concorde. We used the opportunity to take some funny pictures. Our calculus textbook cover is a picture of the Louvre.

Saturday, we went to the catacombs. They were slightly creepy, and required a lot of walking. Afterwards, we went back to the guys’ apartment, cooked frozen hamburgers, and watched a scary movie about the catacombs, which freaked us out even more.


Wednesday, CEA took us to Normandy. It was an educational trip, so we didn’t get to see the beaches. We toured the Total Refinery in the morning. Then, we went to a town called Honfluer. We ate lunch there at a crepe restaurant. Apparently, crepes originated from that area, and they did not disappoint. After lunch, we had some free time, so we walked around the town and eventually found a gorgeous park where we relaxed for a few minutes before heading back to the bus. Our afternoon activity was receiving a technical presentation of a bridge called the Pont de Normandie. At the time it was built, it was the longest of its kind. Again, none of us are civil engineers, but we still found it interesting.


Fete de la Musique

Tuesday night, we were told that there was a city-wide music festival where bands would set up at locations all over the place and we could go around and listen to them for free. We found the first band near our apartment. We decided to go to the Montparnasse area, where there is a mall, because we assumed that would be a popular place for the bands to set up. We found two there, and decided the Eiffel Tower would be even better. When we got to the Eiffel Tower, we were searched and scanned many times. They’ve vamped up security because of the soccer games. We couldn’t find bands anywhere, so we just kept looking around. Eventually, a police officer told us that the festival had actually been cancelled. After that, we just found a cafe to hang out at and watch the games on TV. Even though it was cancelled, we still had fun walking around and seeing the Tower at night.

London! (Prepare for lots of pictures and descriptions)

This weekend, Abby, Katie, Erik, and I went to London. We left Friday evening and traveled by train (underwater!). After we got off the train, we had to figure out how to get to our hotel. They have an underground system, and since we are familiar with Paris’s Metro, we decided to use that, It turned out to be way more expensive than we thought, but it seemed to be the best option. We arrived at our stop, and immediately saw the stereotypical phonebooth. For dinner, we went to a little Italian food restaurant near our hotel. It was a relief to be in a place where the first language was English. Saturday morning, we explored a grocery store, and I found Mountain Dew! For those of you who don’t know me very well, I used to drink at least one Mountain Dew a day. This was the first one I’ve had in a month. We went to breakfast at a local cafe. Unfortunately, the service there was terrible, and it took us two hours to order, receive our food, and eat. But now we can say we’ve had a “full English breakfast” with tea. Using advice from people at CEA, we decided to prebook a 24 hour hop-on/hop-off bus tour that would take us all around the city. We got on the bus around 11:30. I took a lot of pictures of random buildings that I thought just looked cool. The first stop we got off at was Baker Street, where we took pictures with the Sherlock Holmes statue. Our tour guide reminded everyone multiple times that he is a fictional character (apparently, people still write him letters). We also saw Madame Tussaud’s wax museum, and we went in a gift shop where I took a picture with a fake guard. At about 1, we got off at a stop that was supposed to take us on a Harry Potter walking tour. The tour didn’t start until 2, so we killed some time by walking around. After about 20 minutes, we realized that if we went on the tour, we wouldn’t have time to finish the bus route, so we went back to the bus stop. We were informed that because of West End Live, which was going on right next to the stop, the buses had been rerouted, and we were given very confusing directions on how to get to a different stop. We ended up getting slightly lost, and got to go on an adventure for about 40 minutes. We finally found a stop at St. Paul’s Cathedral. We were very relived to get back on the bus. We drove over the London Bridge, where we got a great view of the Tower Bridge, and then vise versa. We got off at the stop at the Tower of London, where we joined a boat tour along the Thames River. We got to pass by the Globe Theater, the Shard, Cleopatra’s Needle, and a bridge that was in Harry Potter! We got off at Westminster Pier, right by Big Ben and The London Eye. Of course, we took time for some photoshoots. We then got back on the bus, and rode to Buckingham Palace. Unfortunately, we were not able to take pictures with the guards there, but we took pictures with the palace, the gates, the fountain, and the park. Then, we got back on the bus, and it returned us to our hotel. For dinner, we had fish and chips, which was not as good as I thought it would be. Sunday morning, we ate a quick breakfast at Burger King (we had learned our lesson). I got some mini pancakes and a Belgian waffle. Apparently that is served with ice cream, so I had ice cream for breakfast. We then got back on the bus, and got off to see the horseguards. We ended up getting there right in time to see the changing of the guards! After that, we got on a different bus route that took us to Kings Cross Station. We of course took pictures at Platform 9 3/4 (from Harry Potter). We ate lunch at a Portuguese restaurant called Nando’s. I had a Portuguese barbecue chicken burger that was very good. After lunch, we had a few hours to kill with little options (because of the cost of transportation, and our 24 hour bus ticket had expired). We hung out in a Burger King for a while because they had wifi. Then we caught the train back, and immediately had to do our homework for today. I apologize for possible repeated pictures, it was very difficult to upload this many at once.

Air and Space Museum

Wednesday, CEA took us to the Air and Space Museum. Our guide was very old and slow. His age combined with the French view on time (which is opposite of America’s rigid scheduling) meant we ended up staying at the museum for 45 minutes past closing time. The guys generally gravitated to some flight simulators in the different sections. While they were playing around, our guide let us get in one of the helicopters and move stuff around. He served in the French military, and was able to tell us which planes he had flown himself. It was interesting to hear his perspectives. Here are some pictures.

Some Random Stuff

Because we went out of town last weekend, we went to the cafe near the guys’ apartment on Friday night for dinner. We tried a couple of interesting dishes: Tuna steak, ratatouille, and beef tartar (which I don’t have a picture). I personally just got a steak with pepper cause, which is a safe and delicious choice at most cafes we’ve been to. After dinner, Erik had to help Katie hang up her curtains that had fallen. Short people are thankful for tall people.

The EuroCup is currently happening in Paris, and things have been crazy. The normally quiet neighborhoods are loud with the cheers of fans watching from their homes or bars. Everything is decorated. There have been some fights between fan bases (which we haven’t actually witnessed, don’t worry). We ran into come fans on the Metro one day. They were dressed in capes and wigs, carried around big boxes of beer, and chanted loudly. I don’t typically keep up with soccer, but it has been interesting to experience firsthand the importance of it here.

One night for dinner, Erik, Katie, and I explored our neighborhood a little more and found a really cute cafe for dinner. I had filet mignon with mashed potatoes and mashed carrots (which were hidden under the potatoes). It was very good, but more pricey than we were used to.

Yesterday (Tuesday), after dinner, we went by a chocolate shop. It was super fun to look at all the objects they made out of the chocolate! Soccer balls, phones, tools (for father’s day), and purses. After that, CEA hosted a wine tasting for us. The lady that taught us was Irish, and apparently had a degree in wine. It was interesting to try and taste and smell what she was telling us to. We had to taste a white and a red wine by themselves, with bread, with cheese, and with chocolate and see the differences each food made. I wasn’t very good at it, but if I ever host dinner parties

in the future, I know how to pour and serve wine!


Sunday afternoon, we went to a town called Colmar, which is an even smaller town in Alsace. This town has a rich history aside from the history of Alsace. It is a beautiful little town. The buildings are similar in design to Strasbourg, but more colorful. We saw another cathedral, and a museum of the guy who built the Statue of Liberty. Colmar is his hometown. The boat tour here took place on a gondola! We had to duck to go under some bridges, and also rode through an “area of silence” that seemed completely isolated from the town. We were completely surrounded by trees and plants. We saw a duck building a nest, and a beaver from a distance. We got to go to a biscuit tasting. Unfortunately, biscuits there are more like cookies and not the breakfast food that goes with gravy. We also saw a building called “the house of faces”. After that, we had a long train ride back to Paris, and had to get back up for class this morning. I think I can speak for most of our group when I say we would love to stay in Alsace and study there.