encore encore!

So, I’ve come to the conclusion that although I’m absolutely loving my life here in Caen, my posts feel much more boring than those from when I was traveling. Plenty is happening and I’m having the time of my life, still! So no worries. If I sound boring let me know and I’ll try to fix that the next time around.

I finished up orientation last week and signed up for my classes: 19 hours per week, with no classes on Mondays! I still have two days to go for this week but things are going well so far. The only rough day is Tuesday, when I have class from 8:20am to 6:30pm but I fought through it. The way that schedules are done here is a bit weird: students are placed in groups, and distributed schedules like that. Therefore in all of my courses, I’m in class with the exact same students. It’s good because I’m getting to know people (and a Baylor friend Noelle is in my group with me) from places like China, Korea, Japan, Ghana, and Panama but still somewhat strange compared to American universities. There hasn’t been a lot of homework so far and I’m hoping it stays that way!

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voila caen!

So, we missed orientation, but that was the biggest of our worries. We were welcomed right away as “the two Baylor students who were lost in Spain,” checked into our dorm, got settled, and registered. That was easy! I had to go to the IAE Caen building to get my monthly stipend, and while talking in English with Jed outside, a French guy named Thomas came up to us and asked us where we were from, since he heard us speaking. He had studied in Scotland for one year – I can’t imagine how difficult that would be for a Frenchman, when I even have trouble understanding Scottish at times. Our French friend Jonathan, who had studied at Baylor the previous semester, came to pick us up so we could get the rest of our luggage which he had been keeping for us during our journey. After dropping it off at our rooms, we went with Jonathan to go see Anais (another French exchange student to Baylor last semester) at her apartment along with some other friends of theirs. We all went out on Thursday night to celebrate and it was well worth it! I met a lot of their friends and spoke a lot of French – it was difficult but I tried my best! It’s so hard to have the same personality when speaking a second language… I felt kind of boring but hopefully it will get better. We also went out on Friday when invited to go by some people that we had met the night before. French parties are fantastic, that’s all I’m going to say!

The blog post will get a little jumpy from here out. Just a warning.

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barcelona!

We spent another day on the train as we left Nice at 10am to go to Montpellier St-Roch, and then from Montpellier St-Roch to Barcelona, arriving at 8pm. I was a little nervous that we hadn’t reserved out hostel for the night yet, but like a sign from God, as soon as we walked outside the train station we saw a big sign that said “HOSTAL” right across the street. We walked over, hiked up 3 flights of stairs, and easily booked our room for 2 nights. Success! Hungry as hippos, we consulted our huge map that we got at the train station and figured out where most of the restaurants and entertainment should be. After walking down a somewhat sketchy street, we started to see two large skyscrapers and figured that this couldn’t be right. Continue reading

nice!

Arriving in Nice at 10am, we had a full day ahead of us. I actually slept quite well on the train; our room onboard was small and held 6 beds (3 on each side of the room, stacked like sardines) but I managed to ignore the fact that there were four random people sleeping around me. I was super excited to actually spend a whole day in France and anxious to practice my speaking skills. Once we got off the train, it was a mutual decision to sit down and have some food before walking to the hostel. We had reserved the hostel online while we were in Switzerland, so luckily we were at peace, knowing that we had beds to sleep in for the night! We exited the train station, stopped at an ATM, and then found a little café on the street to have sandwiches. I ordered completely in French and was proud of myself! It was so nice to hear French all around us. Although I definitely didn’t understand everything, it was much easier than being in Germany where I wouldn’t know the difference between someone calling me an idiot or asking me if I needed help finding something. Continue reading

switzerland!

In order to get from Fussen to Switzerland, we were on trains from 8am until 5pm. We went from Fussen to Augsburg, Augsburg to Stuttgart, Stuttgart to Zurich, Zurich to Bern, and Bern to Interlaken. It was definitely a long day of trains, but I slept a lot and the rest was probably good for my ankle. We finally got off the train at the Interlaken West station so that Jed could mail a few postcards. I’ve bought postcards in every city, but they are spread out all over my backpack and I was bad about getting people’s addresses before I left… I promise I will write to many of you once I’m settled in Caen! We caught the train from Interlaken West to Interlaken East, and along the way, a giant moth became best friends with Jed. It was really one of the strangest things ever, really. The moth latched onto the collar of Jed’s shirt and stayed there all the way from Interlaken to Lauterbrunnen, when he climbed to Jed’s backpack. It stayed there from the bus ride to Stechelberg, on the cable car to Gimmelwald, and until we got inside our hostel, where he finally flew away (Jed lovingly named the moth Gimmelwald after our host town). We checked in at Mountain Hostel, threw our stuff down, and ate some pizza outside while staring at the Swiss Alps. That’ll probably the only time I ever do that in my life! Continue reading

fussen.

I was nervous about going back into Germany. After how roughly it treated us the first time around, who knew if it would be the same in the small town of Fussen. We took a train from Salzburg to Munich, and then from Munich to Fussen, and arrived around 2pm. We rented bikes right outside the train station. Riding the bikes was a bit different this time, though, because we were both wearing our huge travel backpacks. One shift and you could lose your entire balance! We made sure that our backpacks were on as tightly as possible and rode over to the first place that we were hoping to stay at, the LA House. There was nobody there to check us in, so we called the number listed by the phone as the directions left told us to, and after becoming very confused, decided to try to find the local youth hostel instead. Unfortunately the reception desk at the youth hostel was closed as well, but there were lockers that we could leave our backpacks in so that we could ride over to the castles.

We rode for nearly 30 minutes before arriving at the town just below the castles. Continue reading

salzburg!!

Okay, enough transportation talk already. I’ll say just one thing: Germany trains hated us, but Salzburg transportation welcomed us to the city like an electric blanket on a cold rainy day. We arrived around 9am and stopped immediately at the Burger King right outside the train station to regroup and refuel after a VERY long night. Although the bike rental at the train station was closed, it was only a short walk to the hostel that we were hoping to stay at. We walked and appreciated the nice weather along the way – it wasn’t raining yet! We easily found and booked our room at the YoHo Hostel. Even though check-in wasn’t supposed to be for another two hours, the helpful front-desk worker told us that she’d have a room rushed for us so that we could go upstairs and take a nap. Thank you, Austria! We only planned on napping for an hour or so, but of course, five hours later, we woke up. At least we were refreshed!

We cheaply rented bikes for the day from our hostel and made our way over to the Hohensalzburg Festung Fortress. Continue reading