Friday, October 17, 2014

the red beret goes running

At La Kitchinette in Rennes, post Musée de Beaux Arts visit

If you looked at the few pictures on Facebook that have been taken (most from my best museum buddy Jessica, who took almost all the pictures on this post as well) since I arrived in France, you might think all I'm doing here is drinking tea, visiting museums, and running. wouldn't be completely wrong (though I've been doing my fair share of homework and work at my internship, too!) 

Last weekend I was off to Paris again to run the 20km de Paris, which took place Sunday the 12th. Jessica came with me, playing the role of Travel Buddy, Official Photographer, Moral Support, and (most importantly) Especially Excellent Company.
In Paris
A little personal history? Why not...

The 20km de Paris was my first road race longer than 7km.  I started running long distance about four years ago, when I did the “Allure Libre de Gaume” Sunday 5km series with my Luxembourgish host mom as an exchange student in high school.  I wasn’t very active my freshman year, and only slightly more my sophomore year of college, but my junior year I decided to start running a little more seriously, and I started practicing yoga and swimming more frequently.  Last fall, I ran my first official 5k in the United States and was surprised to find that it was my fastest one (26’50”)- almost 20 minutes faster than my first ever 5k three years before. I ran another in the spring with a similar time, and decided to try taking my practice to the next level. As I was preparing to study in France in the fall semester (where I am currently), I set my sights on the 20km de Paris- a 12.5 mile road race through the French capital, beginning and ending in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower.

@ km 14

I started training in August, but it wasn’t always easy. I was frequently in transit, with trips to NYC to get my student visa, moving out of my Rochester apartment and home, and then packing and moving to France. Sometimes the motivation wasn’t there, and I know I could have trained much harder, but I made it to Paris, I made it to the start line at the Pont d’Iena, and in 2 hours, 13 minutes, and 50 seconds, I made it to the finish line…exhausted but thrilled.

 I met up with Jessica in the afternoon, and after sitting in the comfy Starbucks chairs for probably about an hour (to recover somewhat), we wandered around a rainy Paris until our train left for Rennes in the evening.

Dead exhausted, dead thrilled.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

the red beret: return to Europe

Bonjour à tou(te)s! 

The red beret is in France!  I've been on this side of the ocean for almost three weeks, and today marks two weeks in Rennes, the capital of Brittany, where I'm living until late December.  I'm attending CIREFE at the University Rennes 2 as part of an exchange through Nazareth College, my "home" university where I'll return in January to continue my studies.

Classes for us begin the 15th of September, so I've had a good amount of time to get used to the city of Rennes.  I'm here with a group of students from Nazareth (we're 8 total) and we do have some activities together.  Just yesterday we had our "pre-entrance" day at CIREFE, which is a faculty just for French as a second language.  Last week we took a placement test for our French level, and yesterday we met our professors and chose classes.  I'm in C1, which is the highest level offered during the fall semester, so I had a lot to choose from!  I'm in the "Literature" option.

But I'm jumping ahead here.

Before we got on the TGV to come to Rennes, we spent our first five days in France discovering Paris.  I had been there once before, in 2010 when I was living in Luxembourg, but it was lovely to see things again...and in warmer weather! 

I started my own trip on Saturday, August 23rd in Ogdensburg ("started" being a very loose term, since I've left out the trips to NYC for the visa, to and from Rochester, moving back to Ogdensburg, etc.).  In any case, my parents drove me from Ogdensburg to Montréal and brought me to the airport, before heading off for their own adventure in Québec City.  The plane left just before 5pm EST.  I didn't sleep during the 6-hour direct flight to Paris, but I did watch a movie.

My plane arrived in Paris at 5am, earlier than scheduled.  I had been directed to wait for some of the other students, so that we could take a taxi together into the city.  Four and a half hours later (it's a really really big airport), we found each other and were headed into Paris.  I had a nice chat with the taxi driver, and forty minutes later, we arrived at our hostel in Le Marais.

The next four days were a blur of jet lag and sightseeing.  I had a wonderful time getting to know the Parisian streets and cafés, and the other students.  The following photos are actually taken (with permission) by Jessica, a fellow Nazareth student and excellent museum buddy.  I conveniently left the cord connecting my camera to my computer in North America...

Notre Dame

Our group spent the second rainy morning in the Louvre, but Jessica and I opted to stay the whole day while the other students walked around St. Germain des Près.

hiding in the Louvre

At long last, we found Jessica's favorite painting!  We also did an extremely accurate photographical re-creation of said painting while exploring Montmartre the following day.

Can you even tell which one is real?? (the clothes give it away, I know...)

Marketplace at Montmartre
Espace Dali at Montmartre

 There was a cool little museum on Montmartre dedicated to Salvador Dali, which we poked around after lunch and a visit to Sacrée Coeur.

And of course, we visited L'arc de Triomph and La Tour Eiffel...

 Our last day in Paris, we visited the Musée d'Orsay, which is in a converted railway station.  It has one of the largest collections of Impressionist paintings in the world.

I'll be back to tell you about Rennes.  Cheers for now!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

the red beret translates

Exciting things have been happening!  Amidst my crazy three-job every day work schedule, I was asked to translate at a wedding!  The two grooms live in Germany, but one is French and one is they came to the US to get married!  Most of the French family didn't come for this ceremony (they'll be having another celebration in France next month), but the direct family did make the trip.  But those who spoke any English didn't speak enough to act as translator...which is where I came in.  I didn't translate during the ceremony (except in a lowered voice to the French groom's parents to avoid being too disruptive), so most of my work was during dinner (which was AMAZING) and during the reception.

It was such a pleasure, and an honor, to be part of such a celebration.

(And if you're curious, this is the lovely location of the ceremony and reception)

John Joseph Inn & Elizabeth Restaurant

In other exciting news, I bought a tent for future backpacking adventures!

Thursday, May 29, 2014

the red beret goes backpacking: Scenes from Last Summer

Here's a treat- this is what I did as the Trip Director at a Girl Scout Camp last summer.  Nostalgic in a way, I don't know if I'll be adventuring like this during the coming months, because of work.  Fingers crossed, though.

Backpack trip in the Adirondack High Peaks

A walkway on Avalanche Pass

Timeout on Avalanche Lake

Avalanche Lake

On the peak of Phelps Mountain, looking out at the High Peaks

Canoe trip, starting on Upper Saranac and exploring the nearby ponds region

Twitch washing off her feet by the grounded canoes

Home for the evening on our very own island.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

the red beret is back: Fulbright & Update

Hi.  It's been a while.

I've been Stateside since I came back from Berlin (almost two years ago!)  I have been traveling some, but it's been hard to keep up during the semester.  So I suppose my last few trips are just going to have to remain a mystery, and hopefully the future ones will be here.

Okay, not a complete mystery.  Last summer, I worked as a camp counselor and led a 4-day backpacking trip in the Adirondack High Peaks, and then a 4-day canoe trip near Saranac Lake the following week.  In September, my sister and I went to Washington, D.C. for the National Book Festival, where we listened to authors (including Margaret Atwood!) talk about their works.  In October, I took a short trip to Buffalo, NY to visit a friend, and that was it until... March, when I went to Chicago for a weekend and then spent my birthday week with my sister and her boyfriend in Ohio.  The most recent trip was in April, when I attended the Undergraduate Research Conference in German Studies at Loyola College in Pennsylvania, and I spent the rest of the weekend with a friend in NYC.

At Cloud Gate in Chicago, sans red beret but with my trusty blue L.L. Bean.

I'm currently in Rochester, where I attend university.  I'm living here for the summer so I can take some classes and work on my thesis, and it's also closer to NYC, where I'll have to go to propose and pick up my visa to study in France in the fall (!)  Even though the past several months have been mostly stagnant for long-distance travel, hopefully the next couple years will be a little more upbeat.  Today I'm working on my essays for a Fulbright Grant, which, if I get it, will mean I spend a year as an English Teaching Assistant in Germany the year after I graduate.  Fingers crossed, and I guess I'd best get back to working on it.