Archive for March, 2012

Prague Metro Stations

Sunday, March 11th, 2012

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I apologize for the weird picture alignment in this post but I hope you all are still able to appreciate my images of Prague metro stations! I have to ride the metro almost everywhere and in my travels I have noticed how each station seems to have its own unique art or theme. The Prague metro is really easy to learn how to use and if you look at the name of the station next to it you will see a square that is either red, yellow, or green so you know which line you’re on. Also, each one of these stations has a different significance in my day to day life in Prague.

Dejvická: I rarely visit this station, but if I’m headed to the airport for a trip this is where I would get off!

Muzeum: A very “touristy” station. This station drops you off near the National Museum and onto Wenceslas Square, it’s also a transfer stop so this station is always busy and full of people coming and going.

Náměstí Republiky: Another very “touristy” station. There is a (tourist) mall here called Palladium and lots of restaurants, hotels, bars etc all around. It’s name can be translated to Republic Square.

Mustek: This station will drop you off on Wenceslas Square on the opposite end of the Muzeum stop, again this is a good place to get off in Prague if you want to go shopping, clubbing, or find expensive places to eat.

Chodov: By far my favorite place to visit in Prague! Chodov is away from all the touristy spots in Prague but is still in a really nice part of Nove Mesto (New Town) with a modern business complex called “The Park” right across the street from the station. There is a HUGE mall attached to the station as well and there is an Albert Hypermarket (grocery store) on the bottom floor. Chodov is pretty far away from where I live but I really enjoy coming here because it’s a very “Western” area so I feel more at home.

Kobylisy: This is a very large and important area for Prague locals. This is on the outskirts of Prague and a residential area, I have two friends who live off of this metro stop and I will frequently visit them. Here, it’s like a completely different world there are many Cold War era apartment buildings still around and these are rented out to students or are occupied by the elderly. In Kobylisy it’s also quite common to see gas stations, grocery stores, hardware stores etc things you can’t find in the center of Prague.

Ending vacances on a good note!

Sunday, March 11th, 2012
Good morning!
While my vacances d'hiver has come to an end, yesterday was a great way to bring my vacances to an end.
First I made it to the Carnaval de Colette with my friends Gaby, Alex, Ayita, and Mouye. Colette is a boutique here in Paris that was celebrating it 15 year anniversary by hosting a carnaval at the Jardin des Tuileries. The entrance was free ;) and there were all sorts of vendors there. From the best patisseries of Paris to clothing and accesory lines, there were even basket ball games inside and musical performances. It was a really fun time with something to for people of all ages!
Have a look for yourself...
P.S. sorry for any water spots that have come through in the pics-need to clean my lens ;)

le jardin des Tuileries


just lounging 

potato sack race for the kiddies ;) 




I wonder how they got up there?...

party swag!




Ladurée was here too!! hence Gaby's big smile!! 

macaroons!

Barbie was here!



she got her macaroons :) 

Clarins had a cute set up

spin the wheel for a prize!


made a friend  :) 

kissing booth!

more goodies


man on stilts shooting t-shirts out to the crowd


pie throwing contest 

hola hoop challenge

she was really good


basketball game set up indoors

some kicks ;) 



Ayita in line to try her hand at some games




checking out the beats

candy man!

adorable bike painted with nail polish! I want it!! 


Traditional carnaval goodie stand

La barbe à papa a.k.a. cotton candy 

& of course since we are in Paris you cant forget the crepes and...

waffles!

pomme d'amour 

some skating 


 some American goodies for sale

mac & cheese! but ridiculously overpriced of course 





tricky game!


free mask!!

modeling a cool vest & some accesories

black bun? 

some tartes

 made of chocolat! 

After the carnaval we were all starving! (preferred to save money and so we refrained from buying any goodies at the carnaval) So since, Alex and Gaby had yet to get a good tour of the Latin Quarter and visit the Shakespeare & Co. Bookstore we opted to head in that direction and grab some great falaffel! Falaffel is always a good choice.
The latin quarter has to be one of my favorite neighborhoods. It has a very laid back vibe to it, countless small bookstores, Notre Dame, and really good affordable ethnic food!
As we passed Notre Dame, evening set in and so did the cold so we made our way home but not before catching some street dancing in front of Notre Dame. Always nice to see!
Once home we were ready to buy our tickets for Spring break! And what a steal for only about $160 we get to fly from Paris to London, from London to Madrid, from Madrid to Milan, and from Milan back to Paris. I am so excited that it still has not hit me yet! The cities I will be visiting are London, Madrid, Barcelona, Milan (where I'll get to see my dear friends Agnese and Jacapo that I have not seen in almost a year), Rome, and Florence. traveling for half of the month of April means that April is likely to fly by and then I will have only 2 months left in Paris. How time flies! Still so much to see and do!
We ended the night by joining in the celebration of our friend Clement's Birthday! All in all a great fête!
Have a great Sunday!!
-Liz :)

So much for the second week of vacances!

Saturday, March 10th, 2012
Good morning!! Hope your Saturday is off to a great start!
Well this second week of my vacances d'hiver was supposed to be filled with sightseeing around Paris that was supposed to start with the Catacombes de Paris Tuesday but to my dismay, it was spent in my bed with nothing but these two guys:


Yup! It happened! I got sick :(  It had been creeping up on me since Sunday but finally hit me with full force Tuesday and left me stuck in my room for much of the rest of this next week constantly making tea and soup. I think it was just some sever cold but since my severe colds usually turn into sinus infections - I was determined to do everything I could to stop it in its tracks. So while I loaded up on soup, teas, fruits, and veggies since, I do not like to take medicine and prefer to first get better naturally before resorting to meds. Well come Thursday I had no choice and got my butt over to the pharmacy and loaded up on some much needed meds that finally gave me the best nights sleep of this week week! haha!
Luckily just as I was starting to feel better the weather was looking up to and it's feeling like spring again!


Yay!! Yesterday was my first real day out - finally! And it was so warm! I made a stop at ICP to pick up my student card :) and then made a pit stop at the pharmacy and H&M hehe! ;) (a little pick me up) and then decided to stay in one more night to really rest up so I headed back home!

some art work i snapped in my neighborhood on my way home ! 

After a skype date with my family (care package on its way!!!) my friend Ayita stopped by after dance and we started planning our Spring break trip. It's still difficult for me to adjust to french universities academic calendars. I mean not that I am complaining, but technically I am still on winter break and am already planning my trips for Spring break which will start for me in a little over month and will last for the rest of the month of April!
So while I got jipped out of an entire week of vacances I'm looking forward to so much that there is left to do and see.
Today I am heading over to the carnaval  for Colette with some friends which looks like it should be a lot of fun!...
Talk to you soon!!

P.S.
A sincere thanks to my good friends here who risked getting sick to visit me ;)

On a Lighter Note

Wednesday, March 7th, 2012

I’m running out the door to go meet a potential language partner – super excited because if this works out this means I can practice speaking Korean to real people, rather than just to myself.

That sounded sad.

Anyway, courtesy of class 1.6

Tell me anything:
“I’m very handsome and you are so beautiful”
“Lately I had have a strange feeling with no vivid reason here to feel it.”

What are your goals for this school year and the future:
“My goals are be a famous singer like Michael Jackson and lived in Australia with beautiful wife.”

Bear with me here

Wednesday, March 7th, 2012

I teach 20 hours a week, but I teach 26 distinct classes. How does this work? I teach a 2 hour club class once a week (one class – 2 hours per week), a teacher’s work shop (one class, 1 hour per week) and then I teach 2nd grade once a week (10 classes – 1 hour per week), and 1st grade once every two weeks (14 classes – 1 hour. 14/2 = 7 hours per week). 1st grade is split into 1st grade regular and 1st grade advanced, so while there are only 10 HOMEROOMS (1.1, 1.2, 1.3…1.10), I end up teaching 1.1, 1.1A, 1.2, 1.3, 1.4, 1.4A, 1.5, 1.6, 1.6A, 1.7, 1.8, 1.8A, 1.9, and 1.10. 1.1A has students from 1.1, 1.2, and 1.3. 1.4A has students from 1.4 and 1.5, etc. Confused yet? I sure was this time last year.

BUT WAIT THERE’S MORE.

I normally teach the 2nd graders in their homerooms, the club class in 1.1′s homeroom, the teacher’ s workshop in the special English lab, the 1st grade REGULAR classes in the homerooms (but it’s not necessarially the students’ homerooms), and the advanced classes in the special classroom in the library.

Apparently on Monday the classroom in the library had too many books (what?!?) so i was informed when I walked into 1.8′s class that the classes hadn’t been divided yet and weren’t going to be divided until Wednesday. I didn’t think it was a big deal and taught 1.8 and 1.2 my intro lesson. What does this actually mean? This means that today when I taught 1.1 for the first time today, I realized as I was walking in that I had already taught half of the students my intro lesson and half of them had no idea who I was, and I’m going to face those same issues with classes 1.1A, 1.2, 1.3, 1.8 1.8A, 1.9 and 1.10.

::Facepalm::

This wouldn’t be a huge deal, and no one’s really to blame (except maybe the books?) except that my intro lesson is integral to setting up classroom order – I have students write out introductions on notecards and I use those notecards all year for cold-calling, sorting into teams, etc. I also took pictures of all of the students so that I could remember their names. This means that not only do I not have notecards or pictures of half of the students in all of these classes, but I’m going to have to find the notecards and pictures that other students have taken, and reorganize all of it.

AHHHHH.

/rant

Finally!

Wednesday, March 7th, 2012

I memorized the characters for push (推) and pull (拉).

This makes me look 100% less dumb when I try to pull door clearly marked push.

Small victories, guys.

Amsterdam

Monday, March 5th, 2012

I had never really had a specific desire to go to Amsterdam.  It always seemed like a cool city, but if given the choice, I probably would have decided to visit other countries or cities.  However, I was given the opportunity to visit Amsterdam through a weekend trip sponsored by the University of Westminster that Katie somehow heard about.  All we had to do was pay a flat fee, which paid for transportation to and from Amsterdam, the hostel, and entry in to a club on Friday night.  The opportunity seemed too good to pass up! So at about 8:00 pm last Thursday night, I met Katie and her friend Ariel at the Baker Street Tube Station so we could travel out to Westminster’s Harrow campus to board the buses for the trip.  Travelling by coach was the most economic way to get so many students from London to Amsterdam, but it was also one of the slowest! We left Harrow at about 9:30 pm, and travelled to Dover, where we boarded a ferry across the English Channel to Calais, France.  The middle-of-the-night ferry ride was actually really fun—there’s nothing quite like being awake at such an odd hour, travelling across a world-famous body of water.  The three of us managed to sleep on the coach a bit, and arrived in Amsterdam early Friday morning.  After checking in at the hostel and dropping our bags off, we were allowed to set off and explore!

Katie, Ariel and I were most interested in visiting the Anne Frank House.  We had heard that the lines for the world-famous building could sometimes last for hours, so we made that our first destination.  It might have been because we got there so early, but we only waited in line for about half an hour, which was a pleasant surprise.  The tour began with a small museum in a modern building next to the original house.  This section was sparsely furnished, as the main focus was on several videos that played on the walls that described different events surrounding the Holocaust, including interviews with survivors who described their experiences.  Everyone in the room was completely silent, mesmerized by the serious nature of the videos.

This section of the tour led in to the original house.  We began on the ground floor, which had been a shop during World War Two.  We went up the old wooden steps to the upper floors, and finally through the passageway to the section where Anne Frank and her family had lived for two years.  The rooms were left unfurnished, since the original furniture had been removed long ago.  Pictures remained on the wall from when the family had stayed there, though, which gave us an interesting look at how they tried to maintain normal lives while having to hide in what Anne called the “Secret Annex”.  Otto Frank, Anne’s father, was the only resident of the Secret Annex who survived the Holocaust, and it was his choice to keep the rooms in this sparse condition, with only the pictures and marks on the wall remaining.  The rooms were all so tiny, and it is hard to imagine how 8 people lived there in secret for two years.  The top floor of the building is used as another small museum space, with information cards from when they were taken to the concentration camps, as well as pictures and videos from when the camps were taken by the Allied troops and the prisoners were freed.  Anne’s original diary had been taken for conservation, which was understandable though disappointing, but the curators had left copies for visitors to look at.  The entire experience was awe-inspiring and sobering at the same time, and I am grateful that we got the opportunity to visit.

After leaving the Anne Frank House, we headed back to the hostel to freshen up (since we hadn’t gotten a chance to really stop and rest since getting off the bus that morning).  We all took some well-deserved naps before heading out to dinner that night.  Since none of us were familiar with what “traditional” food in Amsterdam was, we settled on a local Italian restaurant.  After dinner, we were content to walk around the city.  Seeing the canals of Amsterdam at night was absolutely beautiful.  Many of the bridges were lit up, which cast some amazing reflections on the water. Since the city is built around so many canals, many of the buildings are slightly crooked, and their traditional architecture looks like something one would find in an old storybook! I was in love with the buildings, and they looked even better at night, lit by the lights from the bridges and street lamps.  It was definitely a wonderful, relaxing end to what had seemed to be a really long day.

Saturday morning, we decided to sleep in until about ten am in order to let our bodies catch up on the sleep we had missed from travelling Thursday night.  We had no other real destinations or tourist attractions we absolutely wanted to see, so we were content to wander around and enjoy the sights.  We stumbled upon the flower market, which is a long row of stalls set up along one of the canals.  As the name implies, it sold hundreds of different flowers, including many variations of Holland’s famous tulips.  However, it was also a great spot for souvenir shopping, and every stall sold some variation on painted wooden clogs.  By the flower market, we found the most unexpectedly fun shop in Amsterdam—a cheese shop that offered free samples of every type of cheese they sold.  Yes, FREE samples.  To three girls travelling on a budget, this was heaven, and the cheese was absolutely delicious.  The best was probably the homemade Gouda, which I probably ate more than my fair share of!

 

After our lovely “appetizer” of free cheese, we headed to a large food court located in the commercial section of the city for lunch, which had come highly recommended from the people at the hostel who had organized the trip.  It was immense, full of every type of food I could have wanted—soups, smoothies, fresh sandwiches, stir fry, anything! It was also insanely busy, but the delicious food was worth fighting the crowd.  After this, we wandered to the Rijksmuseum, where the “I Amsterdam” sign is located.  The large letters are huge tourist attractions, and of course we all took turns taking pictures sitting in or standing around them.  Near the “I Amsterdam” sign was the Van Gogh Museum, which I gladly paid the entry price to visit.  It was amazing! The museum held literally hundreds of works by Van Gogh and his contemporaries, and provided an excellent collection of northern European art from just before, during, and just after Van Gogh’s time.  The colors that Van Gogh used were often vibrant, especially in some of his later works, and his thick brush strokes really accentuated these bold colors.

That night, Katie and I opted out of an optional bar crawl and chose instead to walk through the famous Red Light District.  This was definitely a memorable experience.  During the day, the district is quiet, filled mostly with coffee shops, cafes, and, as you would expect, sex shops.  The main street comes alive after dark, however.  We went early, at about nine pm, and though the street was busy, it was definitely still in the beginning stages.  Pictures were not allowed, for obvious reasons, and we likely wouldn’t have wanted to take any regardless.  We only walked through for about twenty minutes before leaving to get some dinner—as Katie put it, we didn’t want to be “two little American girls left in the Red Light District once it got busy.” I couldn’t have agreed more!

Sunday was entirely devoted to travelling back to London.  We left Amsterdam at about 10:30 am, and Katie, Ariel, and I managed to take naps on the bus to make the time pass.  Our first pit stop ended up being at none other than a Belgian Chocolate Factory.  Yes, indeed, we were able to shop at a small shop that made their chocolate on site. It was absolutely delicious.  I bought a bar of dark chocolate with dried cranberries for myself, and bought a large bar of milk chocolate for a friend back in London.  We caught the ferry at Calais about 2 pm, where we ate lunch and were able to use some of our leftover euros before switching back to pounds in the UK.  The highlight of this ferry ride was getting to see the White Cliffs at Dover in the daytime.  Though it was dreary and raining, the Cliffs still looked magnificent, and were a nice welcome back to England.

I never expected to enjoy Amsterdam as much as I did! It’s a wonderful city, full of history, excitement, great food, and adorably crooked buildings.  I was exhausted after the full trip, and spent most of Monday sleeping since I’m fortunate enough to not have class on Mondays.  London seems huge after being in such a quiet city, but once again I am glad to be back.

Second week of vacances!!!

Monday, March 5th, 2012
Happy Monday!! Hope your week is off to a promising start. It’s a bit chillier here today in Paris but I’m hopeful the warmer weather returns soon and spring comes sooner. I’m taking the afternoon to stay in and keep cozy and warm in my room-aka its homework day! Haha! While I am going into my second week of vacances d’hiver I still had to attend my analyses des conflits modernes course this morning, since it belongs to the FASSE school of ICP and they have slightly different dates of vacances than the rest of the school. But seeing as how it is the only course I am taking in FASSE that means I have the rest of this week free!!!! Which means I will be taking advantage of this by getting some work done and doing some touristy stuff through Paris with my good friend Michelle-very excited! On the 24th of March I will be taking a trip to Normandy with my program, but other than that I plan on staying in the city the rest of the month. 


Being that today’s focus for me is school work I thought that I would go into why I made ICP my final decision as the University I would attend while here. 


Before I left the states I had had a skype date with Dr. Prodeau of MICEFA in which she first suggested that I enroll in ICP. This suggestion was temporary and based on two things: my majors and my proficiency in speaking and writing French. She advised me that at ICP all my classes would be with other francophone students and so I would be responsible for keeping up with their pace and that the French literature department at ICP was challenging. However, Dr. Prodeau did make it clear to me that this was the tentative decision until I got here and looked at and visited all my options. 


Once, in Paris, after presentation of the universities in Paris during Orientation, I ultimately decided between the Sorbonne Nouvelle and lCP. Both had good courses towards both my majors so it was ultimately as decision that came down to how I felt about the campuses and the environment. So I took tours of both campuses. 


First, some main differences: 


ICP is a private university located in the 6th arrondissement right by le jardin de Luxembourg and St. Suplice. Since it is a private university, it has a much smaller student body when compared to the other public universities in Paris. However, because it has more financial resources since, tuition is, by French university standards, more expensive, it has better facilities and more resources available. The international relations office (the office that handles international exchange students) was extremely helpful with answering each and every question I had. For its prospective international students ICP laid spent two days in which we were given a tour of the arrondissement, a presentation of the registration process, and presentations by student organizations. ICP even helped coordinate meetings with the department heads to answer any questions and offered to enroll its students in their TANDEM program. Ultimately, after visiting the campus I could visualize myself spending my next 5months here and did not feel one bit anxious. This was not at all how I felt leaving la Sorbonne Nouvelle … 


La Sorbonne Nouvelle is also known as Paris III and is located in the latin quarter and the 5th arrondissement. The campus and student body is much larger than ICP. But when I went with some friends to visit the campus, and visit the International students office to find out more information about the department I was looking to take classes in I was unfortunately disappointed. It all seemed too unorganized and the International students’ office was not helpful at all. It definitely seemed like this campus would not be the best in facilitating my transition to the French university system. We did not even get a tour but gave ourselves a tour. The arrondissement was also not my favorite. I felt a sense of anxiety the whole time I was there and ultimately decided to follow my gut and go with ICP and I could not be happier!


So far, I have had a good experience at ICP. All the offices have been very helpful in answering all my questions, especially Madame Sabine of the International relations office. She is familiar with my face now   haha! I am enjoying my classes and find them all very interesting. So ultimately, I chose ICP because the campus felt like the best fit! I think that when you are in a situation where everything is so foreign to you, if you at least try to ensure that when thing is less stressful you can better ensure you’ll have the best possible chance at academic success. I am grateful my classes are relatively small, that my professors are very helpful, and that I have met some friendly students thus far. 


One last thing, while ICP is known as l’Institut Cathoilique de Paris it is by no means a strict catholic university with a purely catholic student body. I do occasionally still get thrown off when I see a nun or two walking through the halls or a cross in the classroom haha!


But it’s worth it if I can spend my breaks between classes reading here…








I just cant wait for Spring to get here! Then it's gonna look ten times better! 

À bientôt!

Guess What I Ate Part 2

Saturday, March 3rd, 2012

Here’s a hint:

See my pictures here…

See Ian’s better pictures here.

New School Year

Friday, March 2nd, 2012

For the last few weeks I’ve been studying Korean at Ewha Women’s University in Seoul. It’s not only a great reminder of how difficult learning a language in immersion can be, but also how irritating it can be when the teacher doesn’t pay attention to, anticipate or react to students’ learning needs. I make it sound like it was a terrible class, which by all means it wasn’t and I did learn quite a bit, but instead of learning just grammar and vocabulary I also saw how things that I do in the classroom, and that my teachers did, that not only don’t work but also made me incredibly frustrated as a language learner. All in all, quite a productive vacation if I do say so myself.

Well enough clauses and commas and onto school stories and lesson plans.

Coming back to school was nice – every time I pilot a new lesson I’m nervous, especially during the first few weeks when the new classes are getting used to each other and the teachers. However once I enter the classroom and see the students, my anxiety dissipates and I remember why I chose to do this gut-wrenching, panic inducing job.

For my 1st graders I’m planning on doing the same thing I did last year – introducing myself, having them write out their own introductions in note cards,  then having them present each other anonymously and having the class guess who wrote what. Fun stuff.

For my 2nd graders it was a bit harder to think of something… because they know me and each other, so introductions are not only redundant but kind of unnecessary, so I’m doing a lesson on happiness that I largely stole from Sam. Lots of details I don’t feel like talking about, but basically the students in the end produce the same type of introductory note card as the 1st graders do.

Gem of the day:

No.3: What is your hobby?
“My hobbies are to meet my friend and cook and conquer space”
No.4: Tell me something **Random**.
“Cute cat.”
No.5: What do you want to learn in this class (DON’T SAY ENGLISH)
“I want to learn conquer space.

um… kidding?… “