19 janvier 2006

Salut tout le monde!

Hi everyone, thanks for visiting my new travel blog about my semester in Lyon! I'll post lots of fun stories and pictures about my adventures here so you can keep up with what I'm doing! So for now, a recap of all the things that have happened in the past 2.5 weeks without a travel blog...

It was pretty overwhelming. My flight went okay, but when I got to the hotel (the classy Carre-Pegasse), I was so exhausted that it took me 10 whole minutes to figure out how to unlock the door. I arrived on New Years Day, which was not only a cold, cloudy Sunday (the shops here shut down on Sunday and Monday), but a national holiday. It was so odd arriving in a big city with no one around and nothing at all open. I felt toute seule...

Luckily, things went much better after that. I met all the other girls in the UVA program, and everyone was so nice and fun to hang out with, right from the beginning. There are about 15 or so of us here from uva/w&m's program. It's really great how most of us have bonded and everyone has lots of interesting stories about their backgrounds and where they've traveled. I'm amazed at some of the places these girls have been to! My lovely Lyon ladies are sort of like a little family away from home.

Lyon itself is pretty large, but I have explored the right bank of the Rhone (where my school and apt are located) and the Presqu'ile (the downtown area) the most. The Rue de la Republique and Place Bellecour are beautiful - Rue de la Re is a big pedestrian street with lots of shops and lots of people-watching, and Place Bellecour is a huge square in the middle of the city. Then on the other side is the bank of the Saone, where I've seen some really pretty views of Vieux Lyon, the historic part of town. Pictures coming soon...

I had to stay in Les Carres Pegases for about 2 weeks until Caroline's colocataire/cousine moved out. Number of times the maid came to bring fresh towels: 3.

In that time period, I started PRUNE (which is about as fun a name as the prep classes themselves are) and given the um, intense, workload, I had plenty of time to walk around Lyon with my new friends. In Prune, I had to take Oral (taught by the entertaining, balding Hervé), Ecrit (writing, taught by the ugly-sweater/pointless lecture poster child, Mme Parry), and Litterature, along with 2 conferences on Architecture and Secularism in France. They were at times boring and repetitive, but I did learn some things about the French grading system, and if anything, I got used to listening to a teacher for 3 hrs a day, in French and taking notes again.

The people of Lyon are really nice, and I haven't run into any "anti-americanism" yet. On the contrary. They like to practice their English, so they will sometimes start speaking to me in English. Of course, that completely confuses me, trying to switch back and forth! I practically forgot to sign a credit slip the other day when a salesperson suddenly started speaking to me in English. At one little sandwich joint, my Carres-Pegase partner-in-wine-crime Louise and I started talking to the owner about how we liked Lyon, and he even gave us free croissants as we were leaving! So I feel pretty safe here. There are of course some parts of town I wouldn't walk alone in at night, but every city is like that, and there are lots of ways to get home safely as well.

So about the FOOD! Lyon, as you may know, is considered the gastronomic capital of France, and therefore the world. I have had the pleasure at dining at some fine establishments during my stay here. The main street for dining is Rue Merciere, lined with classy restaurants. I went to Le Winch there a couple weeks ago, where they serve big, heavy salads (with lots of meat and cheese) and great Creme Brulee. I also went to an italian-style restaurant, where the most memorable thing was the waiter with a shirt so tight, his man-pecks were popping out. In another twist of irony, we went to a Tex-Mex place afterwards... I swear, I really am in France. But seriously. Every week at the grocery store, I've been trying a new type of cheese - my new favorite is Beaufort, which is similar to Comté and Swiss (but with no holes).

Fashion is another thing of distinction (and distraction) here. French women wear huge scarves, wrapped around their neck multiple times and then knotted. it's great! Then let's not forget the boots! So hot right now. Soldes are going on- by law, they only have sales twice a year, so everyone is going crazy and shopping everywhere! I made a few purchases so I'll have some fun souvenirs :)

Thanks for reading - keep checking for updates and pictures!!

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