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!