“Who says you can’t go home” -Bon Jovi

Well here I am blogging from my bed in good old PA. I got home Monday night around midnight so it was about 6am France time and I was pretty tired because I had been traveling for almost 24 hours. I left Paris on Monday morning at 11am France time and I arrived in Chicago at 1pm central time and then I flew to Washington Dulles before flying to State College. So three flights and three time zones later I did make it home and even though it was a long day I cannot complain because everything went so smoothly, I arrived safely and on time and all of my bags made it with me.

Anyway, now that I am home I promise to try to get caught up on my blog posts, at least get my Euro tour pictures finished because I have now been back from that for two months so I should probably get a move on it.

After Milan we headed back to France and stopped in a very beautiful town in the alps called Chamonix. It was my second time being there and I found the scenery just as breathtaking as the first time. Chamonix is home to Mont Blanc, which if I am not mistaken is the highest point in Europe. 

We were originally going to take the Mer de Glace which is a train to go up the mountain but we were not able to because there was an avalanche risk. So instead we got on ski lifts and went up a different mountain that had a great view of the town.

For lunch we went to a very cute “resto” and ate a very traditional french meal, Tartiflette which is somewhat similar to scalped potatoes and ham but 10 times yummier.

I happened to think that the architecture was very cute there so here is just an example of the houses we passed by.

That’s it for today.

Keep your eyes peeled for my next post which should be coming soon.

 

Thanks for reading!

-Emma

 

 

 

Milano

Hey there! I am really behind on my posts so here are some pictures from Milan. I didn’t get to spend that much time there so I don’t have too much to say about the city so you’ll have to use your imagination 🙂

Enjoy!

The fortres

The cathedral

The gallery: Here there are many high-end shops including the original Prada brothers store and if my memory serves me correctly there is even a FIVE-star hotel (didn’t even know that existed).

Léonardo da Vinci

These balcony-gardens seemed to be fairly popular around the city

 

I’ll try and finish my bus-trip posts as soon as possible because I have so many other things to share!

-Em

 

Venizia- Venice, Italy

HEllo everyone,

I hope you enjoyed the pictures from VENICE. It is a very beautiful city filled with a lot of history and even more tourists. I was very fond of this city because I found it to be rather charming. I must admit that I did not see a whole lot of it. Mostly the two main sites : the San Marco square with the Palace of the Doges, the Per Alzo bridge and all the narrow streets and shops in between. Something about Venice that is quite unique is that there are no cars and so many people that live there own small motorized boats to get around and there are boat taxis for others who don’t have their own boats.

Ps. Sorry for the long delay! I don’t know how much I will be blogging in these next few weeks but I’ll do my best!

 

Wien (Vienna)

Mozart was not born in Vienna but spent the last 10 years of his life there. I must admit that before our tour I didn’t know that Mozart was Austrian… I guess I didn’t pay too much attention in music class when I was younger.

Not sure I agree with that one but hey everyone’s got their own opinion.

I don’t seem to have taken that many pictures of Vienna but I did appreciate it. It seemed to me to be a more modern city architecturally speaking but like the others it is filled with history which I need to brush up on. Vienna is the capital of Austria (for those of you who were not sure) and it is situated on the Danube Canal. If I am not mistaken you can take the boat to the Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia, situated at 65 kilometers. I learned on our guided tour that Vienna is home to the oldest German-speaking university in the world, founded in 1365, and was also the capital of the Austrian empire until 1918 when it became the capitol of the first Austrian Republic.

The day after our visit in Vienna we spent the day on the road and something I can say about driving through Austria is that the scenery is absolutely breath-taking because the country is covered in the mountains. Here is just a taste:

Next Stop: Praha!

The next stop on our trip was Prague:

We were lucky enough to get to spend about a day and a half in Prague and we had two guided tours so we saw a good bit of the city. What I really appreciated about Prague was how colorful it was. I tried to capture that in my pictures but I’m not so sure I was successful. Anyway, I hope you enjoy! 

On the second day we visited the cathedral:

The guards are very serious about their work. One of the girls from our group decided to get up close to him and stick her tongue out  and in response he took the end of his gun and slammed it into the ground while grunting. Afterwards our guide explained to us that in Prague you can’t kid around with the guards like you can in London.

For lunch we had “old Czech ham” with rye bread (not a big fan) and potatoes with “bacon” bits. It was quite yummy. Afterwards for dessert we had another Czech specialty but I’m not sure of it’s name. It was kind of like a sugary pretzel and so good!

Something else to know about the Czech Republic is that they use Czech Koruns instead of the Euro. I might just say that paying was a bit confusing because it was hard to know how much we were actually spending. We did learn that one euro was roughly 24 koruns and I read on a sign somewhere that one dollar was the equivalent of 17 koruns.

I found that some people were rather friendly and open while others  seemed to be quite reserved. On the other hand who am I to judge? I really wasn’t there too long so these are just the impressions I got.

Well I must be getting off to bed. Have a great evening!

-Em

 

Nuremberg, Germany

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I should probably be hitting the sack or better yet be doing some homework but I figured I would get a quick post in… who needs sleep or good grades anyway??

So the next stop on our big tour was Nuremberg Germany. I have to say that crossing the German border was very nonchalant. I guess I was expecting to have a big sign saying something like ” Welcome to Germany” (in German of course) like we have in the states when you cross into another state. I would not have known that we had crossed the border if our driver, Nicolas, had not said “Bienvenu en Allemagne”.

Bref, we got off the bus and the first thing we were told was to stay out of the cyclist’s way because they have the right of way and will plow you over if you get in front of them.

For lunch we ended going to a nearby carnival/ fair. Unfortunately it was pretty dreary weather but we managed to find a restaurant with sheltered tables. Our waitress was really nice and we got to talking and we explained to her what we were doing there and it turns out that she had been on exchange in Kansas (so of course her English was really good) and the food was yummy.

After lunch we had a guided tour of the city but it was mostly a history lesson. If you are not already aware, Nuremberg was the Nazi headquarters while Hitler was in power. Between 1927 and 1938 the Nazis held their annual rallies there. The city was also the site of the 10 month trails that were held after the war to condem Nazi war criminals.

Above is what remains of the Nazi Rally Grounds

This is a picture from one of the rallies before the war. A bit of a difference huh? Here is a little history of the stadium:

The cathedral of light:

Hitler would arrive by this door and walk down the steps to meet the hundreds of thousands of people waiting below.

It was a bit strange knowing that I was standing where Hitler once stood but since I am really interested by that period in history and I studied it in history this year I did honestly enjoy the visit.

After our visit we had some free time to wander around the down town area which was rather pretty but there was not much open because it was Sunday. Here are just a few things we passed by:

I hope you guys enjoyed!

Bonne soirée,

-Emma

Euro-tour 2012: Paris- Strasbourg

Hello there !

It’s been a while since I have last posted  and I apologize for my absence but I do have a good excuse. From Friday April 13 to Tuesday April 24 I was in a bus with 50 other Rotary exchange students doing some traveling. I must say that apart from a few glitches the trip was marvelous and went very smoothly.

Since I have a lot to write about and a lot of pictures to post I am going to do a series of posts relating to this trip so stay tuned!

Day 1: Paris

On Friday morning I got up early and took the train to Paris. Some people are not fans of taking the train but I absolutely love it. Getting back to the subject… In the morning after having found the group, we had some free time. At one point I was talking to our chaperones and they were asking me where I was from and when I told them Pennsylvania they told me that there was a guy on our trip who was also from P.A. so I ended up talking to him and it turns out that he is from Pittsburgh and is going to PSU next year… what a small world.

Friday afternoon we had a guided tour of Paris and our guide was the best one we had during the trip. He was peppy, easy to listen to and full of small anecdotes that made the visit more interesting. Every time I have been to Paris I am always enchanted by the architecture and I take a multitude of pictures. I love the white stone and the rounded corners of buildings and then the black railings of the balconies. One of the several things I discovered on this particular day in Paris was the “lover’s bridge”. The idea is to go to the bridge with your sweet-heart, take a lock and place it on one of railings of the bridge and lock it before throwing the key into the Seine river just bellow, that way your love will last forever.  I also learned that, to my surprise, the most visited site in Paris is not the Eiffel Tower or Notre Dame but Disney Land Paris with 20 million visitors annually.

Gare de Lyon ^

George Washington^

After our tour we drove to Reims where we spent the night before getting up the next morning and hitting the road to go to Strasbourg.

Day 2: Strasbourg

Strasbourg is a city in northeastern France in the Alsace region (a.k.a. not far from the German border). It is known for its cathedral, which is breathtaking. For lunch we ate a special tart called “Tarte Flambée”. It is similar to a pizza but the crust is much thinner and the traditional toppings are little ham bits and cheese. It was quite yummy! After lunch we took a tour in a “bateau mouche” up and down the river but unfortunately I don’t seem to have absorbed much of the information. I can tell you though that Strasbourg is a very beautiful and colorful city. The architecture is very different from that of Paris. After our tour we had some free time and so we did some exploring and of course a bit of shopping. In front of the cathedral there was a man who sang and I wish I had taken a video because is voice was so unique and beautiful… it was hard to believe that it was actually coming from his mouth.

Well that’s it for now.

Next up is Nuremberg, Germany and Prague, Czech Republic

❤ Em

Annecy 2012

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Hey guys! I hope you had a fantastic weekend.  I sure did!

On Friday I took the TGV (the fastest train in Europe) with my Rotary district to Annecy, a city in the Rhone Alpes not too far from the French-Swiss border, for the JRJ or Journées Rotariennes Jeuness. What this means is that all of the Rotary Exchange Students in France came to Annecy to spend the weekend together. To give you guys a clearer idea of what that means, this weekend there were 430 exchangers from 31 different countries! This only happens once every three years so I was very lucky to have been a part of it! I was also very glad to go to Annecy because it is a breathtakingly beautiful city and the mountains are unbelievable.  As if that wasn’t enough, the weather could not have been more ideal as we had sunshine all three days, it wasn’t too hot nor too cold and there was not a  single cloud in the sky which of course means the only down side is that I got sunburnt but it was worth it.

We spent most of Friday in the train and we had a whole car for our group so it was very noisy from all of the excitement. I love taking the train and looking out the window at all the different landscapes. When we arrived and finally got off the bus I just took  a few minutes to take in all the exquisite scenery. The snow-capped mountains. This is the view from our resort:

In the evening after dinner(we ate Tartiflette which is  similar to scalped potatoes and ham and really yummy!), we had a dance party which went pretty late so you can imagine that we didn’t get much sleep!

Saturday was the best day. In the morning we had a conference where we talked about the Winter Olympics because Annecy was a candidate to host the games of 2018 but lost to South Korea. We got to talk to several athletes from the Savoie and Haute Savoie region of France who have already competed in the winter Olympics and we talked about why a country would be interested in hosting the Olympics.

After a little picnic we took a mini “cruise” on the lake which was extraordinary:

Okay so I guess there were a few clouds in the sky 😉

There were a lot of para-sailers which you can see if you look closely at the picture above.

After our cruise we had something quite like a rally and we got a group picture which was published in the local paper the next day. There were a lot of Americans there and we sang several patriotic songs including the Star Spangled Banner, God Bless America, This Land is your Land ect… it was probably very obnoxious but at the same time it sent chills down my spine… I don’t think any of us have ever been more patriotic. We were not the only ones, however, who were singing and chanting!

(Thanks Chelsea for the picture! )

We finally got a little time to ourselves to walk around Annecy. We didn’t get to see much but what we did see was very beautiful.

There was a little art festival and we got to talking with one of the artists and I found out that his son went to school at Temple in Philly. Then later on some Americans who were not part of our group stopped to ask what was going on and one of them was from Pittsburgh and she had been to State College. It just goes to show how small the world is.

Saturday evening we had a talent show. All 18 districts preformed  and we had some good laughs. Before there was a flag ceremony and all of the national anthems were played.

And of course afterwards we danced. 

The DJ was probably the best I have ever had. We danced like crazy until the early morning. It is a really amazing feeling to know that you are surrounded by so many people who represent 31 different countries of the world. We may not all speak the same mother language and our cultures greatly differ but we were all brought together by a common goal to go on an adventure and discover a new country, new language and new culture. My friend Christian from my host district said ” If everyone would go on Rotary Youth Exchange there would be no more war” I think he’s probably right.

For more pictures from the weekend Click here:

https://plus.google.com/photos/104120896520319300082/albums/5726776184528281617

 

Not a day like all the others

Today is a very important day for several reasons: 

1) Today I am officially 19 years old

2) It is the official 7 month anniversary of my arrival in France. 

 

Let’s start with the 7 month anniversary. OH LA VACHE! I can’t believe how fast the time is going. When they told us at the beginning of our exchange that it would fly by they were NOT joking. Here I am 7 months later and now I have to think about life after exchange. What a crazy idea. I guess when we are all packed up and ready to go and we are saying goodbye to friends and family, 10 months seems like  quite a long time. In reality, 10 months is really not long enough. So here is a message to any future exchange students out there, you might be really tired of hearing it but take advantage of every opportunity. Don’t waste a single minute wishing to be back home because you are going to close your eyes for what seems like 2 seconds and when you open them it’s going to be time to do just that. 

As for my birthday it’s been pretty great so far. I started celebrating yesterday afternoon and last night we had a great home-made cheese soufflé topped off with a yummy chocolate-caramel cake for dessert! I am so lucky to be surrounded by so many great people over here who have gone out of their way to make this year fantastic and memorable for me and my birthday has been no exception. 

 

Merci à tous mes amis, mes deux familles et les rotariens qui étaient là avec moi les sept derniers mois. C’est à vous que je dois cette expérience vraiment merveilleuse! (vous m’excuserez pour les fautes que je fais en français 🙂 

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