Life Update: Second Semester

Hey friends it’s been a while. This semester has had some ups and downs but has definitely been a learning experience. 

I was unable to run for quite a while because I hurt my knee doing a race in the mountains back in October. Where I am used to running is always flat and unfortunately the decline during this race was much steeper than expected and I hurt my knee pretty bad. So I had to take some time off, had an MRI, and it turns out that I had torn some cartilage but it’s healed now. I just started running again a few weeks ago, and I can’t really go more than 3 miles but I am loving being able to run again especially with the weather being nice.

So the biggest thing was that 3 weeks ago I changed host families. Basically I was feeling for a long time that my host mom (Anne) didn’t really want me at the house, and that Airbnb was more important to her. She would complain about my study abroad program, and make comments about every little thing that I did. Plus she cleans all the fucking time. And not just like some minor cleaning but extreme to the point where the house looked EXACTLY the same all the time. And then she would get all pissed off if I used the kitchen  because she didn’t trust that I would be able to leave things as clean as before. Like one time I was making pasta and she came in an yelled at me because I put the spoon next to the pot on the table after stirring the pasta because apparently I was getting water everywhere. So finally I decided that normal people do not live like this and that I did not have to put up with this any longer. So everything was arranged with my program that I’d tell her one day in advance that I’d be changing host families. She didn’t react well when I told her and dinner that night turned into a huge disaster which included her yelling at me the entire time, calling me the worst student she’s ever had, and saying some pretty nasty things about me, including saying that I was “mentally ill” and should have never been let out of the United States since I go to counseling here. But dont worry she got over the fact that I was leaving pretty quick because I’m pretty sure my room was up on Airbnb the next day. 

So the next day I moved to the complete other side of Grenoble, closer to the city center. I live in a small apartment with a lady named Catherine who is probably one of the nicest people I’ve ever met. She’s a vegan and is super into art and the environment. She always gives me information about things to do in the area and has me help her cook since I really suck at preparing food myself. 

But looking back on it I cannot believe I put up living at that host family for 7 months. I was considering changing back in December but I just told myself I can put up with anything for another semester. But how ridiculous is that? I knew it was possible to change host families but I preferred to hate where I was living instead of putting in the effort to improve my situation. And I’m starting to realize how little I care about my own happiness. I have such a hard time getting myself motivated to do anything that’s actually good for me. I am constantly hard on myself to the point where I’m unable to enjoy what I am doing. But this is something that I have always done, and that I have been working on improving this semester. And normally I tend to keep these things really private, but after the comment that my Anne made about me going to counseling, I feel like is something I should be able to talk about. Yes I go to counseling, but so what? At least I am taking advantage of the fact that it’s available to me and I working on these things that I know I have difficulty with. Anne’s comment really bothered me, but it’s those kind of people who need help the most and it’s sad that they never get it.

So yes, this semester has had it’s rough moments, but really so much good has come out of it. Honestly if a year ago someone would have told me where I’d be today I would have never believed them. I’ve really met some really amazing people here, and I feel like my time here is too short but at least now I know I’ll be able to enjoy it.

Also here’s some photos of Nice from the latest trip with my program:




France Round 3

Okay, so before I began, let’s just point out that this was my 5th international flight and you would think I have never flown before based on my current situation of having made it to France without a single useful item in my carry-on. 

So let’s start at the beginning .Yesterday was the first time we actually got snow and of course the one time it actually snows just happens to be the day I booked my flight to go back to France. The snow died down by noon but there was still a chance of my flight being delayed. My carry-on suitcase wasn’t that well prepared but I thought, hey I should be in Lyon by noon so I really don’t need to worry about it.

I get to the gate an hour before boarding. The snow had stopped and the plane was already there. So I thought I had absolutely nothing to worry about for making my connecting flight to Lyon. 

Boarding time approaches and they make an announcement that the crew is still cleaning so it will only be about another 20 minutes. 20 minutes goes by. then 30. then 45. Then finally 1 hour later we board the flight. 

Bad signs about this flight:

-The captain makes his FIRST announcement introducing himself and FORGETS what city we are going to. He literally said « um, wait where are we going again? oh yeah, Paris »

-He makes multiple announcements saying that we cannot take off until the runway is cleared of ice. The most concerning announcement was « uh just an update here, there is no update. The technicians are not communicating with us so I don’t know if they are still chipping away at ice on the wheels or what is the problem »

Then not even 1 minute later he makes another announcement saying oh I guess everything is fine we can start taxing now. 

-And he literally forgot that we were going to Paris in EVERY announcement. 

-Then they finally get the runway clear but they had to get to ice off the plane, which added another 20 minutes to our delay.

I’ve never in my life felt so unsure about a plane taking off.

We finally take off an hour and a half later. So our flight was delayed by 2 and a half hours. I knew by this point that there was no way I would be making my connecting flight. But it was fine, I accepted it because the flight attendants reassured us that Delta would be rescheduling those who have connecting flights and that there would be an AirFrance representative right when we got off the flight to help us figure everything out. The flight attendants even specified that we could checked Delta’s website during the flight to see our flight changes which never even posted any information on connecting flights or that our own flight was delayed. 

Everything else on the flight went like any other international flight. So over 7 hours after take off, we land in Paris a little after 11. At this point, multiply passagers are flipping out over their connecting flights. We finally get off the plane and we find the AirFrance desk. We talk to them about these flights and it was literally like they had no clue that our flight was coming in. In fact, I am positive that there was ZERO communication between the 2 airlines. A lady tells me and 2 others to go to terminal 2F to go talk to other people about our flight. We walk over 10 minutes to get there just to be told  that we need to go back to where we originally were in terminal 2E. So we go back there, and now a huge lined has formed from almost everyone that was on our Detroit flight because nobody made their connecting flights. We waited for an hour and a half  in line and literally only moved 5 feet during that process. Someone tells me and this other guy that we can go back to terminal 2F because we were flying within France, and they could easily give us new boarding passes. We head back over there for the second time only to be giving new directions to go a whole new area in the way that we came by terminal E. 

We wander around for the next hour or so before someone finally sends us to the AirFrance ticket office to get new boarding passes. We go there only for the guy to tell us that Delta had actually booked us on 2 other flights that we had no clue about and totally missed. He prints our boarding passes  even though they don’t normally do that for reconnecting flights and sent us off to our terminal to get our bags straightened out so they would be on our new flights. We wait in line and get that done and the lady didn’t even charge me for my carry-on for putting in under with the rest of the suitcases on the flight.

After going through security again, we finally make it to our gates where I say goodbye to a friend I made through that torture that is the Charles de Gaulle airport.  I get on my flight and besides being super hungry and dehydrated, I am actually not too pissed off about everything that just happened because I am just stoked to be back in France again. Plus the person I was with during this who time kept positive and we kept just making jokes about the whole situation. He didn’t speak French so I did all the translating for him so I was feeling pretty good about my French skills as well.

So I get to Lyon and I am pretty pumped about going to my Airbnb, especially after all that was over. I go to baggage claim to get my checked bag and then it turns out it never made it onto the flight to Lyon. It was still sitting there in Paris. Even worse I realized I have NOTHING of use in my carry-on.  My suitcase is being sent to Grenoble as so I won’t be able to get it until Thursday anyways. So here’s a current list of what I brought with me.

Current contents of my carry-on:

7 scarves

phone and laptop changer




a book

eye make up



Things that I should have had in my suitcase in case of a situation like this:








Unfortunately, I spent my first night in Lyon buy all of these things that one would logically have in there suitcase because I literally only had the clothes that I was wearing. So basically after these 24 hours of hell, I learned that one should always pack your carry-on suitcase well or you’ll be like me planning to wear the same jeans for 4 days straight.

Recent Travels

The past month has been incredibly busy and has flown by, so here are some highlights of my recent adventures:


This was our first excursion with API. We were there during the « descente des alpages » which is when they have a huge festival for the bringing down of the animals from the mountains. This festival featured a huge parade with people wearing tradition clothing while walking with the animals. We drank possible the best apple juice in existence, saw a herd of geese wearing ribbons, and took a tour of the city all while freezing our butts off.



Course du Buis: 

The week end after I went to Annecy I ran a 10 kilometers race in the mountains. Besides the fact that the course practically changed from flat to vertical at times and the paths we so narrow that I was pretty sure I was going to fall to my death, I was really enjoyed the race. But if there is anything that I learned from this race, it’s that French clichés really do exist. Normally, when you signed up for a race in the U.S., you get a free T-shirt and maybe a mug or something like that, but instead of a t-shirt, we got a block of cheese and some sausage (being vegetarian, I gave the sausages to my host family). And the people who placed in their age group received, you guessed it, more cheese and some wine.



I love living close to the mountains. It gives me the opportunity to go for hikes with my host family and see incredible views of the city. Also, the running club Trail that I joined is has provided me with the chance to see amazing views and to make some new friends




All right, before you get too excited thinking I went to Vienna, Austria, let me tell you that Vienna, France actually exists and it’s totally lame. Okay well it’s really not that awful, but you know it wasn’t the best when the highlights of your trip include petting a cat you found on the street and sampling some pear juice at a distillery.



Going to Germany was by far one of the highlights of studying abroad so far. I went with 2 friends from API for the weekend. We made the dumb mistake of not learning any German at all before going, so on the first night when we went out to eat we were a mess. My friend automatically responded to the waiter in French, so the waiter had no clue what language we spoke so it ended up being some weird mix between English and French and the occasional thank you in German. Also, water is not free in restaurants there, so we ended up splitting this tiny pitcher of water between the three of us.

Going into our hostel the first night was possible one of the most awkward experiences of my life. We walked in expecting to say hello to the people staying there (we were in a room of 10) but we entered, it was absolutely dead silent. No one even turned to look at us. So we awkwardly proceeded to find our beds and then locked our stuff up. Well the lockers were obnoxiously loud as we struggled to shove all of our stuff into one. And of course we were those people giggling uncontrollably because we so uncomfortable by the silence.

We started our first full day of our trip by going to the Dachau concentration camp. I cannot really explain what it was like being there, except that the entire experience was really difficult and erie. Just being in the same room area where thousands of people died for absolutely no reason was incomprehensible. Even after reading about all the terrible things the nazis did to people or seeing the gas chambers, I still could not imagine the horreurs that people went through. And the most amazing thing is how strong the human will is, and despite all the suffering, there were stories about prisoners helping each other or sharing what little they had. Being there is definitely something I will never forget


Afterwards, we went to this huge palace called Munich Residenz. The palace was really cool to see, especially since so much of it was destroyed in WWII and then rebuilt. Then to experience traditional German food, we went to a famous beer hall. Which was kind of ridiculous to go to a beer hall when none of us like beer and we just ended up drinking water, but it was fun to experience that sort of atmosphere.


The next day included visiting some castles outside of Germany. Everything was under construction so it was quite an adventure trying to get there and back, but it was worth the journey. It was extremely foggy (which was the perfect atmosphere since it was Halloween) and the forests around the castles where so beautiful because the leaves had changed for fall. After the castles, we bought a whole bunch of candy that we ended up eating most of that evening (in the spirit of Halloween, of course).


For our final day, we stayed in the city and visited a whole of bunch of churches and walked around the city center.


I am really enjoying my time in France so far and looking forward to traveling more in Europe during winter break!


Okay, tonight has definitely been one of the most disappointing days for me. As some of you may know, I currently have an obsession with the artist Mika to the point where I listened to nothing but Mika this summer and so when I learned he would be playing in Grenoble October 8th, I immediately bought a ticket. Well obviously I have been very excited for it (I had a countdown on my phone) so I rushed to the concert today to make sure that I was there early enough only to learn that it was cancelled because Mika is sick. So I returned back home and spent the rest of my night writing this blog post and drowning out my sorrows by watching Mika videos on Youtube. Fortunately, the concert will be rescheduled for sometime between November and January but unfortunately for my friends, that means a few more months of me talking about Mika.

But anyways, I thought it was about time that I got around to updating everyone about my time in Grenoble so far.

I can hardly believe that I’ve been in France for about 6 weeks now. The program started out with a Paris tour and since my program in Pau ended in Paris, I ended up skipping out on some of the touristy things and visited the city on my own. Being in Paris for the second time was so nice because I felt comfortable getting around and I was able to do some things I did not have the chance to do this summer including going up the tower at Notre Dame, visiting Sacre-Coeur, doing a guided tour of the Louvre, and visiting the Musée d’Orsay. I also went to the Cimetière du Père-Lachaise (which is the largest cemetery in Paris) to see some famous graves including Chopin, Oscar Wilde, and Georges Bizet.

Musée D'Orsay

Musée D’Orsay

After visiting Paris, we took the train to Grenoble and met our host families at the train station. I actually live outside of Grenoble, which I absolutely love because I can easily get to downtown and still enjoy the living close to the mountains. I really love living with my host family. My host family is so much different than my family in Pau. They do Airbnb, so we will have different people staying with us throughout the year. I really like having different people staying with us because it’s a great way to meet new people and learn about different cultures.

I finally feel like I am getting used to my classes. I am taking French history, history of French cinema, vocabulary, and French literature along with my French language classes. The first week of classes was pretty rough, especially when you sit through a 2 hour class and realize you understood absolutely nothing. The classes are set up different than how my classes work in the US. For example, our elective classes are only one time a week for an 1 and half instead having them 2 or 3 times a week for 50 minutes. It’s nice having the class only once a week, but it means having to put in more work into the class outside of class.


Place Victor Hugo- Grenoble

My favorite thing about Grenoble is that the people are so active. I also see people running or doing other forms of exercise. The university has many sports that you can do so I joined a running club called trail where we run between 10-15k in the mountains. It’s really intense but running in the mountains is worth it because it is so beautiful. I have also made a few French friends through the club and have signed up for a race next weekend. Also, I signed up for a tennis class since I have never played before so I figure I might as well take the opportunity to learn while I am here.

These past few weeks have definitely had some ups and downs, including having to buy a new phone, not being able to transfer my money from my bank account in the US to my account in France, being sick, and learning that my grandpa is in the hospital. But I am really thankful for my host family and to be surrounded by such wonderful people who make me laugh and remind me that there is something positive in every situation. Plus I have a ton of things to look forward to during my stay in France like traveling, meeting new people, and improving my French! And I know that this experience in France despite all of its ups and downs will be absolutely amazing.

Picture from when I visited Marseille a weeks ago.

Picture from when I visited Marseille a  few weeks ago.

Life Goals

Okay, so I’ll admit these aren’t exactly life goals but since I have been home for a little over 2 weeks, I’ve decided it was about time I start to prepare myself to go back to France. Relaxing and taking a break is nice, but as my countdown on my phone reminds me, I only have about 40 days until I go back. Plus the study abroad program has given all the students an online orientation to complete, so I have created some goals for when I start my academic year program in Grenoble:

GET OUT MORE: One of my biggest problems (at home and France) is getting the motivation to do things. I have wasted so many days just sitting around at home instead of going outside and enjoying the beautiful weather or hanging out with friends. This SHOULD be less of a problem for me in France because everything is so close and I absolutely love public transportation (I hate driving) so I SHOULD have no excuse to stay inside. But this is not always the case. So I am making a promise to myself that while I am in Grenoble, I will make myself go out and become one of the locals at a café or make some cool French friends.

STAY HEALTHY: I absolutely LOVE running, but as I just stated, motivation is quite a problem for me. So I am going to set specific millage for the week and I have no excuse not to run that much, especially since Grenoble is an active city. Also,the Alps are so beautiful. I cannot pass up the opportunity to go skiing or hiking in the mountains!

LEARN TO LET GO MORE: Hey! Guess what! When you are going to a new city you are going to get really freaking lost the first time you try to go somewhere but you know what, that is completely okay! Seriously, the first time I got lost in Pau, I was panicking. I was with a friend and we went to H&M after having a 2-hour tour of the city all in French and we were incredibly jet-lagged and experiencing culture shock. But long story short, we were panicking that we couldn’t find our way home (I later realized I lived a block away from H&M). But looking back on it, I am realizing that it was not as big of a deal as I was making it. It wasn’t some life or death situation and we eventually made it home just fine. Plus public transportation is basically idiot proof, so I can get wherever I need to be. I have also realized that making detailed lists of what I need to get done for the day can be helpful, but as I learned in London, it is really nice to not have a plan and maybe get lost a little as you explore a new place.

DON’T BE SO HARD ON MYSELF: I know this may seem silly, but I honestly had the impression that by going to another country, you would be able to suddenly pick up on the language really quick. Someone who studied abroad in France has even told me that within a week or 2 she was able to pick up on the language really easy. Well that is a HUGE lie. When I got to France and heard from others that it took them MONTHS to become fluent in another language, I was so devastated. I did not want to believe this and I constantly felt like I needed to do better in my class and that I would never become fluent in French. But by the end of the session I was able to understand most of what people said and I was way more comfortable with my speaking skills. So even though my class was way over my head and I had moments where I was practically in tears because I couldn’t understand what people were saying to me, it is 100% normal. Learning a language is hard and requires a lot of patience. Being too hard on myself will get me nowhere.

COMMUNICATION: I am lucky to have some pretty amazing people in my life, but as they know I am not the best at keeping them updated. Seriously, I really suck at this. There has been times where someone has sent me a text message and it will take me an entire 2 weeks to respond. And  I don’t mean to ignore them, I just forget the basic purpose of having a cellphone. So please consider this as a formal apology and as a promise to make more of an effort to keep people updated while I am in France

Grenoble, France

Grenoble, France

6 weeks in France and London


June 2, 2015

My 2 days of hell of traveling and waiting in the airport have begun. I honestly cannot believe that my first study abroad experience is coming to an end and that I have to return home. So I left Pau Wednesday morning (June 24). I spent the about 2 days packing and unpacking my stuff (since I overpacked) until I finally got everything into my backpack and 2 suitcases. My host mom and I had to carry them down from the fourth floor of her apartment (since it has no elevator) and I had the unfortunate position of walking backwards down the stairs, praying that I wouldn’t tomber to my death. But fortunately I did not fall to my death but I am already missing France. I think that I may have taken advantage of the city I studied in. I did not realize I would miss the Boulevard of Pyrenees or going for runs in the park of the Château de Pau. I never watched TV with my host family because I had the impression that TV was their personal time. The first time I asked my host dad if I could watch TV with him, he said the show was too complicated for me then proceeded to sit me down in front of another TV upstairs, playing some Italian movie dubbed over in French that was “simple enough” for me to comprehend. Well of course it wasn’t and I ended up spending an hour in my room feeling that I would never understand French.

Despite this, I miss my host family and I miss living in a huge old apartment where I could see the Pyrénées mountains every morning. I miss the baguettes for breakfast and the long dinners with cheese and fruit for dessert. And I feel like as soon as I started to get used to living with them, I had to leave. My host mom and I finally bounded over Stromae and by talking about differences between French and English. On the other hand, my host dad grew a little impatient with me and constantly finished my sentences and always spoke to me extremely slow, explaining very simple French words even when I said I understood. He even did that terrible thing when he yelled a French word slowly at me one time at the dinner table when I did not respond to his question because I did not hear it. But I completely understand where they were coming from. It exhausting talking to someone who doesn’t understand the language yet and having to explain things multiple times. But either way, I still learned a lot from them and now I have connections back to Pau.

It is amazing how much I have changed since I first arrived in France. Culture shock made me go from being unable to function to having a better understanding of French culture. And when I say that culture shock makes a person lose the ability to function, I literally mean that. There was one morning where I literally stood in front of the cupboard for about 5 minutes trying to figure out how in the world could I fit two jars of jam into the cupboard. It was impossible, I was certain there was no room for them when my host dad just comes up and stacks the two jars on top of them. My mind was blown, stacking the jars never even crossed my mind for a second. And the best part is when you eventually reach this wonderful point where your French skills are starting to improve, but for some reason your English skills has significantly declined. You lose all ability to communicate in either language and you are pretty sure that you are no longer a person.

Crêpe made with chocolate, bananas, and whipped cream

Crêpe made with chocolate, bananas, and whipped cream

The excursions with the program were incredible. I still cannot believe that the places we went to were real. Our first excursion was to the Pays-Basque. We went to Bayonne, which is this really cool city close to Spain, that is a mix of French and Spanish culture. Then we went to Biarritz, which has the most beautiful beaches that I have ever seen. The next excursion was in the Pyrenees. We went to the zoo, which was in the mountains and then to a city called Gavarnie to hike. Unfortunately we had to turn back early because the there was a thunderstorm and it is extremely dangerous to hike in one. But hiking in the mountains was one of the most amazing experiences that I have ever had. The mountains were so beautiful but unfortunately the pictures I took will never do it justice. Lastly, I went with 2 friends to Bordeaux for a day. The city is much bigger than Pau and the architecture of the buildings is similar to Paris. Bordeaux is known for its wine so of course we went wine tasting and walked around the city all day.


I feel like I could go on forever about Pau. The city was a little too small for me and my class was a bit frustrating because there was such a wide range of levels within our class, but I am glad I stuck with it and I feel like I still learned a lot. Also, the Paris tour was totally worth it. We got metro tickets, a museum pass, 4 nights in a nice hotel with breakfast, and dinner at a really nice restaurant. The thing that I did not like about Paris was that it was so incredibly touristy in certain areas. For example, when we went to the Palace of Versailles, people were basically walking single file through the Palace. It was hard to really get a good look at the rooms or let alone imagine what it might have been like to live there back in the day. Also, going with a large group was not fun at all. It was difficult to keep everyone together and to get about 20 students on the metro in less than a minute. But I still enjoyed being able to hang out with some of my friends and explore Paris. I could go on about my trip forever but I decided a short description of things I have done is better:

-Day 1- We took a 5 hour train ride to get to Paris. After we arrived at the hotel, we went to the Jardin du Luxembourg, which was beyond incredible.

-Day 2- We went to the Arc de Triomphe which is this huge building that you can go up over to see a view of Paris. Personally, I thought that the view from the arc was better than the view from the Eiffel tower. We also went to this church which had the most beautiful stained glass that I have ever seen in my life. We wandered through the opera house as well.

-Day 3- Eiffel tower, the Louvre and dinner, plus boat ride in the evening on the river. The Eiffel tower was pretty good but it would have been much better without the pickpocketers following you around and constantly asking if you speak English. The Louvre was absolutely incredible but the building is a labyrinth. My friends and I got so lost in the museum since we had no clue that the Egyptian art would be as big as it was. After the Louvre, we went to this other museum of the French sculptor Rodin.

Musée Rodin

Musée Rodin

-Day 4- Palace de Versailles, which I already discussed, and then packing for London.


My London trip has finally come to an end, which I am quit happy about since these past 4 days have been exhausting. My friend and I left for London at 7 in the morning on Sunday. We got a shuttle from our hotel the airport with left at 5 am, and so we were up at 4 am. Also, that night I went to bed at 3 am so I was running on an hour of sleep. When we arrived in London, it was a huge culture shock. We went to a café for breakfast and we honestly had no clue how to order or how to eat. Were we allowed to sit there for a few hours after we ate and just hang out? Do we tip the server? Is it rude if we don’t eat everything on our plate? We ended up eating an obnoxious amount of food before realizing that the restaurant was similar to those in the U.S. Later that night, we got all the touristy sightseeing stuff out of the way like the Tower of London, Big Ben, and the London Eye. It took us forever to figure out the metro, since it is so much bigger than the one in Paris, and we had to buy a card for transportation. The next few days we saw Buckingham Palace, found Abbey Road, took a nap in a park, and wandered around Baker Street. My friend and I realized the hard way that London is ridiculously expensive, so we have been living off of bananas and peanut butter sandwiches since Sunday. But now all we have to do is wait. I am currently writing this from the airport in London. Our flight to Paris does not take off for another 2 hours and we will be spending the night in the airport in order to wait for our flight back to the U.S. on Friday. So these next 36 hours will be hell, but I know it is totally worth it. I absolutely loved seeing London and comparing it to Paris. I love traveling and this journey has made learn to appreciate things more through all the ups and downs that being in a foreign country brings. I know I am incredibly lucky to be able to return to France to study for the academic year.