kamilaswerdloff's Travel Journals

kamilaswerdloff

  • From Oregon, United States
  • Currently in Boulogne, France

France Trip Summer 2011

This journal will be a grammatically incorrect account of my adventures in France, involving people, places, food, etc.

Au Revoir!

France Boulogne, France  |  Jul 25, 2011
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Well, it has been a while! I went from Paris to Florence to Rome to Berlin and back again. What an adventure! I spent the night in a Milan train station, because Italian trains are notoriously late. Thank god for German ICE trains, because they, I have you know, are NEVER late. Anyway, after a not so comfortable night in Milan, I made it to Florence in the morning, just in time for the parade. Well, since 10 o clock really means any time after 10 o clock, I didn’t actually see the parade until much later that day. But that didn’t faze me! I love Florence. What a beautiful city. I did the obvious touristy things like visiting the David, and going to the Uffizi (where I might’ve stared at the Birth of Venus for more than 10 minutes). I couldn’t help it. Boticelli is a genius. I also found more hidden treasures, such as the free sparkling water fountain in the piazza signorina, and the most delicious gelato I have ever tasted: mascarpone e nutella.  I met wonderful, intelligent, fun people. I watched the fireworks at night from a balcony. I ate the most delicious food, ever. (Shh, don’t tell the French). I strolled thru the cast leather markets and admired the many, many bag and shoes, of which I couldn’t resist the urge to buy at least one of. I saw a historic Calcio game, which consisted of the combining of American football, rugby, and wrestling. What a spectacle. It’s played by the four neighborhoods in Florence, and it is even broadcasted on the local TV channel. At first, you can tell who the teams are by the color of the shirts, but, by the end of the game, no one is wearing shirts anymore.

I decided to serendipitously go to Rome. I stayed in a hostel for the first time, which was definitely an experience. Not all bad, though. They had nutella. Also, renting a bike was the best idea ever.

Then I made my way to Berlin. I absolutely adore Berlin. I WILL live there at some point in my life, if just for a little time. I got to meet my mother’s childhood best friend, who I stayed with, and she was so much fun. I got my German skills almost back up to par (I fooled the guy in the train, so hey, that’s something).

I gained a new found respect for Bauhaus. I visited the Berggruen Museum, which has so many Picassos, I didn’t know what to do with myself.

Then I went to Kassel, to visit my family, and I got to see some friends who I hadn’t seen since 5th grade, when I went to school in Germany. Not much had changed, besides the fact that everyone smokes now.

Then I went back to Paris for a few nights, and this time, I went shopping. Well, it had to happen at some point. I also saw a wonderfully informative, albeit disheartening photography show about forests around the world, which was on display outside the Louvre hotel.

Back in Boulogne, things are a bit more quiet on the...northern...front.

I met a nice girl named Veronika, from Slovakia (not Slovenia, how dare you!) whose idea of a good time might include hitting up complete strangers in the middle of the night, on the wild streets of Boulogne

I managed to get thru 4 entire seasons of gossip girl.

I am happy to say I am now a big fan of champagne, and am going to be seriously sad to not drink it almost every day when I get back home.

I am also starting to think I should tell people I am a physical therapy major or something, because I am not always prepared to play piano at every single party where there happens to be a piano. Oh well! People (pretend to) love it every time anyways, and, the good thing about performing for people who don’t speak English is that they don’t know when you’re just singing nonsensical words because you forgot the original lyrics. And you can also say “damn,” without everyone thinking you’re trying to rebel.

A word to the wise, if you ever find yourself in France, at a table (which, let’s face it, will be half of your time spent in France) and you want to break an awkward silence, it is perfectly acceptable to, out of the blue, stare vaguely at your plate and say “bon,” and proceed to down whatever alcoholic drink you have in hand.

Well, I am really going to miss my wonderfully amazing family, who has been so incredible and taught be so many new things. But, I am coming back again, soon! After all, there are hundreds of cheeses I have yet to try.

So long, France, and seriously, thanks for all the fish!

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  • User Profile Photo
    kamilaswerdloff wrote: Sun Apr 29, 2012
    My mini trip, since I found places to stay with friends almost everywhere, can;t have been more than 300 euros, excluding the eurail pass. Thanks so much for reading my blog! I hope you end up doing this program. it's completely worth it!
  • User Profile Photo
    kamilaswerdloff wrote: Sun Apr 29, 2012
    Hi Arikka!

    I stayed in France all in all for a little over two months, excluding the two week trip I took to Italy and Germany. I had taken about 5 years of french before I left. Honestly, I think two years wouldn't have made a difference, since taking it at a college level goes so much faster. I loved the Conversation Corps. My family was so wonderful and easy going, and I really like to teach, so that was a plus. I ultimately chose the ConversationCorps because I wasn't at all interested in the AuPair, and it was sounded like a really cool way to go to Europe pretty inexpensively. I had so much free time I didn't even know what to do. I would definitely recommend trying to go to a place where you can find lots of things to do. I know it's ultimately up to where you find a family, but there are usually choices. Yes, I only took the rail on my trips. I bought a eurail pass, which although seems kind of expensive, was really a great way to travel.
  • User Profile Photo
    Arikka wrote: Fri Apr 27, 2012
    And one more question...how much did it cost for your mini trips around Europe? Did you use the rail only?

    Thanks!
  • User Profile Photo
    Arikka wrote: Fri Apr 27, 2012
    Kamila,

    I just had the most pleasant time reading your journal. I felt like I was walking on Parisian streets and smelling and tasting all the amazing foods you enjoyed! I love food to say the least. I am a foodie and future patisserie owner here in the states and hoping and praying that I find a placement soon in France to complete my final research. If you don't mind I have a ton of questions for you regarding the experience because I'm up against a decision of choosing the Au Pair program or Conversation Corps because of timing.

    Exactly how long did you stay in France? How long were your trips of exploration on your own?
    How much French did you know before you left?
    Did you enjoy Conversation Corps? Did you look into any other programs like Au Pair?
    Why did you ultimately choose Conversation Corps?
    Would you recommend it to someone?
    On average how much free time did you have to yourself during a week?

    Thank you so much for your time and sharing your stories!

    Best,
    Arikka