Thursday, April 12, 2012


I’ve been in Spain since Saturday and I LOVE it!  I arrived in Madrid after a long day of traveling (I had to get up early to take the train to Paris) and found my way to the tapas reception for the Vaughan Town “Anglos.”  The Anglos are all the English-Speaking volunteers and we represent England, Scotland, Ireland, America, and Switzerland.  We got to know each other and spent some time at a bar afterward enjoying more tapas (Spanish appetizers that usually accompany a drink at a bar).  I had visited Madrid in high school, but I don’t remember much of it, and now I want to spend more time there! 

Sunday morning we got up early to head to our location, El Rancho in Torrecaballeros, a small town near Segovia.  We then spent the day with our usual activities, one-on-ones, eating lots of amazing food, and siesta time!  One-on-ones are when we have an hour-long conversation with a Spaniard (in English only!).  I was nervous at first that it might be difficult, but it has been wonderful.  The Spaniards come from many backgrounds:  business, medicine, sports, as well as Spaniards participating in the Master program though Vaughan.  We always eat our meals with two Spaniards, so they are always speaking English.  It has been fantastic, and has exceeded my expectations!  I have one more day here, and one more night in Madrid, so more updates to come!

Friday, April 6, 2012


I'm officially on vacation, and will be heading to Spain in the morning (my train leaves at 5:39AM).  The last few weeks were pretty busy, I went to the beach and swam in the English Channel last week when it was warm, but unfortunately the weather turned cooler again this week.

In other news, I was featured in an article in the Susquehanna Alumni magazine, SU Currents! Click here to read the article!

Check back for Spain updates, and Paris updates the week after!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Finally Spring!

The weather in France is beautiful!  It's been warm since Friday (we haven't had a heatwave like the US has) and the days are longer and longer, especially since we had Daylight Savings Time start yesterday.  Unfortunately is has been extremely foggy many of the mornings, which makes it hard to get up and go to work!

Last week I got the chance to go to the coast again.  Karen and I helped with the trip for the Russian students that are visiting the high school.  The day started with a tour of a local cookie factory (which included a box of free cookies!).  I ended up translating the tour, so I learned a lot about the cookie making process.  Then we went to Lannion for the weekly market, I bought a ring made by a famous Breton designer for 10€, when the ring normally sells for over 30€!  I also bought some great local soaps and delicious strawberries (grown in France).  We then headed to the granite coast where we spent a few hours before heading back to Guingamp.  It was a tiring day because we had to keep track of the students, and we learned a lot about Russian culture, but definitely worth it!

We then spent the weekend in Rennes with some friends.  The weather was beautiful, and it was a lot of fun.  Unfortunately I left my camera behind, so there are no photos to share.

There are now only two weeks until our next vacation (Spain and Paris) and only three weeks of work left in my contract.  I'll try to be good about updating during that time!!

Monday, March 12, 2012

St. Cast

This weekend I visited a friend in Dinan.  A few minutes after I arrived at her apartment, her neighbor knocked on the door asking if we wanted to go to the coast.  Of course we said yes!

Monday, March 5, 2012

A Chicken?

Today I was working with the CM2 students on home-related vocabulary.  When describing their homes I taught them to say "There is..." then list the rooms.  This ones one girls list:  "There big bedroom, one small bedroom, one living room, one dining room (pronounced dinning) and one chicken."  Chicken?  A Kitchen!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Winter Vacation, Pt. 4

The last two days of vacation were spent in Paris, the first time I have spent the night there since I’ve been in France!  Since we had seen most of the important sites already (Dad visited me in Paris when I studied abroad), we could really focus on the “important” things: visiting a few museums and visiting pastry shops.

There are many perks of being under 25 in France, up to 60% off train tickets, lower fees at banks, free library cards, and FREE access to most museums and monuments in France!  We visited Centre Pompidou (not always my favorite, but there is a great view at the top of the museum), the Louvre (which is conveniently open late on Wednesdays), Musée d’Orsay, and the Orangerie, which houses Monet’s water lilies.  Normally it would have cost about €40, but with my long stay visa, and proof that I’m under 25, I didn’t pay anything for these museum visits!  The only problem is that to get in free, you have to wait in line, and my dad, who had the museum pass, got to skip every line.

We spent a lot of time walking around the city, talking about what were must-sees for when my mom and cousin come in a few weeks, and sampled delicious food!  We had the best éclaires in Paris, in miniature form, macarons from LaDurée, and Angelina’s famous hot chocolate.  It was nice to be in Paris again, especially because we stayed around the corner from where I lived in 2009!  It was hard to say goodbye, but it was an amazing trip and it reminded me that I need to take advantage of my next two months in France. 

 This week was back to work as normal, and today I found out that one of the elementary teacher’s is out for the next few weeks, so I ended up teaching the entire class alone today after the substitute had to go to an emergency meeting.  This month will be fun because I’m helping to prepare the oldest students at the elementary school for an exam that all students their age take in order to enter middle school.  I will also help administer the exam at the schools I work at. 

Finally, it is starting to really look like spring here!  Trees are flowering, and there are daffodils everywhere.  It is also warmer, and there have been a few really beautiful days.  It’s been foggy most mornings, but most of the time it burns off.  Also the days are much longer, when we started work again in January it was still dark at 9AM, now it is light before 8!  That’s all for now, I’ll try to be better about updating in the coming weeks! 

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Winter Vacation, Pt. 3

I’m finally trying to catch up on Berlin, even though I’m already halfway through the first week back at work (and fighting another cold). 
            We spent four days in Berlin (Saturday-Tuesday) and flew back to France on Wednesday.  Our first day in Berlin was spent walking around and seeing some of the city.  Dad had been in 2009 when I was studying abroad so he knew what we should see!  Sunday, we purchased a museum pass and spent the day visiting “Museum Island.”  There I was able to see Nefertiti and the “Berlin Golden Hat” as well as lots of other ancient artifacts.  One thing that is nice about museums in Berlin is that many entry frees include an audio guide.  Normally I’m not a fan of audio guides, but in this case it was interesting/informative.             
            Monday was similar to a Monday in France, so many museums were closed, instead, we spent the day doing some shopping, seeing the palace, and taking pictures because it was a beautiful day!  The highlights of Monday were the amazing chocolate from Fassbender and Rausch and buying myself a new pair of boots (on sale!).  For dinner we had a traditional German meal from a restaurant recommended by our hotel.
            Tuesday was the opposite of Monday, we woke up to snow, and it continued to snow most of the morning.  We had signed up to visit the Reichstag (the German Parliament) Tuesday morning, and after going through security and riding the elevators to the top of the dome, we were able to walk around the top.  Parliament wasn’t in session, but they do have a great “guided tour” along a walkway that circles the dome.  The dome is directly over the parliamentary chamber, and the top is open, so technically there is a hole in the parliament ceiling to let fresh air and light in.  Unfortunately because of the snow much of our view was blocked, but I really enjoyed the visit.  That night we went to a great restaurant for dinner, the waiter picked out special meals for us and was really helpful/nice, especially after I spoke French with him! 
            I was sad to leave Berlin the next day, but relieved to be going back to a country where I spoke the official language.  It really bothered me that I couldn’t communicate in German (even though communication was not a problem at all).  I think I have become so used to living in another country where I do speak the language, even if it isn’t my first, and where people are impressed/pleased that I speak it, that I felt bad for not being able to speak German.  Maybe I’ll have to study a third language when I get back to the US?

Next up: Paris!