Bus Trip: Paris to Barcelona

Bus Trip: Paris to Barcelona

Hola amigos!

I created a youtube channel where I’ll be posting videos of cool events I got to participate in, like this bus trip! Click on it to watch! 🙂

I had the amazing opportunity to go a bus trip with 38 other exchange students from the Rhône-Alpes region of France. We traveled from Paris, France all the way down to Barcelona, Spain. I got to meet lots of cool people, try new foods, and experience different cultures during this trip, so I thought I’d share it with everyone. Enjoy!

DAY 1:

We started the adventure in PARIS! We got to see the Eiffel Tower, L’arc de Triomphe, Le Louvre, L’Opéra de Paris, etc. Unfortunately, most of our time in Paris was spent in a bus, but that changed when we arrived in Chambord, France.

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DAY 2:

The second day we visited 2 castles: Le Château de Chambord and Le Clos Lucé, they were absolutely beautiful! We then stopped in Amboise, a city located south west of Paris, for lunch and made our way down to Potiers.

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DAY 3:

The third day we went to Futuroscope, a French amusement park in Potiers. This park was sooooo much fun!! It has super advanced technology and it was all in French, I really enjoyed  my day here with my friends.

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DAY 4:

The fourth day, we went to Toulouse, France. Aka ‘the rose colored city‘. Toulouse is a beautiful city in the south of France known for it’s orange (rose) colored bricks that make the streets so unique. We got to visit the city hall, a church, and try authentic Italian pizza. I had a very nice time.

Later on that night, we drove to BARCELONA!!! I was soooooo excited to finally get to Spain because I went to Madrid two years ago and fell in love with the culture, language, food, etc. This time I was with my friend Ireland who is from Peru so she helped me with speaking Spanish, since I now speak more French than Spanish. 😝

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DAY 5-6:

We stayed at a hotel 1 hour away from Barcelona, called Lloret del Mar. It’s a costal city in northern Spain. We spent 3 nights at the hotel with another district of exchange students from the northern part of France, so I got to meet and talk with other exchange students.

The first day in Barcelona, we went to Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria. It’s an adorable market known for its fresh produce.

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I’m so grateful I could discover another’s city in Spain. I think Barcelona is my favorite city I have visited so far, especially La Plaza de Cataluña: the heart of the city of Barcelona. The atmosphere here is incredible! The streets are filled with so much art, different languages (because the official languages here are Catalan & Español and many other languges from travelers) and the weather was beautiful!! I couldn’t have asked for a better 2 days in Barcelona.

My favorite food from Spain is called ‘Pinxtos,’ an appetizer from the Basque region of Spain. They are typically tiny pieces of bread with cheese, a type of meat, and veggies severed on top. We also had fresh fruit juice and a Basque dessert called Góxua which is like creme brulee with vanilla ice cream in the center.

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We then visited La Sagrada Familia, my jaw dropped when I saw it. The architecture is so unique, I’ve never seen anything like it before in my life!!

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And my favorite part… la playa! The beaches of Barcelona are so beautiful and we had great weather during the time we were there, so I was enjoying every second!

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DAY 7:

The last visit was in Figueres, a city in the northern part of Spain. It’s  a very cozy city, they also speak Catalan here. All the streets are filled with signs in Catalan. It’s  actually quite similar to the Latin languages.

We got to visit the Dali museum, it was one of the most unique museums I have ever visited. Salvador Dali had a very unique style and I’m really glad I got to see his work in person.

 

 

Sadly, it was the last day of the bus trip and we drove back home to Lyon. I have made so many new friends, learned more Spanish from all the Hispanophones I met, and made lots of hilarious memories on this trip.

Shoutout to my parents for giving me the opportunity to explore the world with like minded people. This trip was one I’ll never forget!

 

Snow Shoeing In the French Alps: Grenoble, France

Snow Shoeing In the French Alps: Grenoble, France

I’ve officially been in France for 5 months…

And what better way to spend it than with people from around the world experiencing the same journey! This weekend 43 exchange students headed to the mountains to explore all the nature France has to offer. The weekend started Saturday afternoon, we met up at a chalet a then headed to the hills to luge a.k.a sledding.

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After sledding we ate a delicious French meal called Raclette. It’s cheese melted on a pan, then scrapped onto potatoes, and can also be eaten with a selection of cold cut meats. It’s a super delicious and super popular meal amongst the French.

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The next day we woke up bright and early to hit the mountains for some Raquette a.k.a snow shoeing for almost 4 hours!!! I had never done it before so it took a while to get used to, but it was super fun and we saw some awesome views from the top of the mountain!

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Joyeux Anniversaire: Chambéry, France

Joyeux Anniversaire: Chambéry, France

Happy 18th Birthday to me!

I have been so fortunate to spend my 18th birthday in France surrounded by my exchange friends, my 2 host families, and my Rotary club! I enjoyed great company and delicious food at the most beautiful chateau, I could’t have asked for a better way to celebrate my first year as an adult! It was truly a day to remember! Thank you to my legit family for giving me the opportunity to spend a year abroad, my host families for always being so patient and supportive, my exchange friends for teaching me a bit of their culture, and Rotary for making my exchange year possible!

But the celebrations didn’t stop there!! The day after my birthday, my best (French) friend surprised me by showing up at my house!! It was the best birthday surprise ever!! Her name is Estelle, she was an exchange student at Jackson High School 2 years ago and my family hosted her for 5 months, so you can imagine how happy I was to see her!! We spent the whole weekend in the city of Chambéry eating Nutella waffles, drinking hot chocolate, and shopping. She has also helped me tremendously with Français since it is her native language.

Estelle and I also went to a ‘Dia de los Muertos’ fiesta with some Latina exchange students in Chambéry, so I have been speaking a lot of Spanish, French, AND English this weekend! That’s one of my favorite aspects of study abroad because there are more ways than one to communicate with others. Overall, I will never forget the memories I made on my 18th Birthday thanks to my friends and family!

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Weekend Ski Retreat: Grenoble, France

Weekend Ski Retreat: Grenoble, France

I absolutely love my host family because they love to stay busy whether it’s going into the city for a cup of hot chocolate, going on a walk along the country side, or playing Scrabble, we always have so much fun together! This time, my host family decided to spend the weekend on the slopes at Vercours, being that we live in the French Alp region known for its ski resorts that attract lots of tourists from all over Europe!

Friday night my whole host family packed into a ‘mini-bus’ and headed to the south of Grenoble where we stayed in an appartement. It was a rough drive to to the ski resort,  would say we got about 2 feet of snow over night! Therefore, we did not get to ski Saturday because it continued to snow and the visibility was so bad. But we did go ‘luge-ing’ (I don’t know if that is a word in English, but in French is called a ‘luge’). It’s basically like an outdoor rollercoaster on a snowy mountain! It was super cool, I enjoyed it! The rest of the time we went sledding except it took us almost an hour to create a path on the mountain because there was powder up to our knees! But it was worth it because I got some cool pictures 😉

Sunday morning we woke up bright and early to hit the slopes. It’s funny because every time I would go skiing with my family back in the States, I would always get sick… so of course with my luck, I got sick this time too! I ran 1 round on the blue tracks and the energy was completely knocked out of me and during that time I only fell twice!! But hey, at least I can say I skied in France!

Christmas Traditions in France

Christmas Traditions in France

It’s the most wonderful time of the year and I’m so grateful I get to spend it in France! 

In France, the Christmas festivities start as early as the 1st of December with…

L E   C A L E N D R I E R   D E   L ‘ A V E N T : 

In the U.S, these are very hard to find, so I was really excited when my host family gave me my very own! This specific calendar is filled with Kinder (the best kind of chocolate in the world!) and everyday leading up to the 24th, you open up a window! There are 5 different kinds of Kinder chocolates, so everyday you are ‘surprised’ with a different chocolate! And on the 24th, you actually get a ‘Kinder Surprise’ which is  a chocolate egg with a ‘surprise’ inside! It’s a fun Christmas tradition for kids 😉

L E   M A R C H E   D E   N O E L :

My favorite thing about Christmas in france is how festive the cities are. Each city in France has their own Marché de Noël (Christmas Market) open for the month of December. It’s a bunch of tiny outdoor markets scattered all around town, these markets are run by locals artists, bakers, florists, the list goes on and on! It’s a great way to support local businesses and find unique christmas gifts! They also have entertainment for children such as an ice skating rank, live music, and ‘Santa’s house’ where they can go to take pictures with Santa and give him their Christmas list!!

The Christmas lights are also a very cool tradition! Every night, the streets are lit with beautiful christmas lights…


L E   S A P I N   D E   N O E L :

In France, as well as the U.S, we decorate Christmas trees! This year my host family bought a real Christmas tree which I thought was super cool because my family in the U.S. uses an artificial tree. We decorated with some candy canes, red & white ornaments, and some spray on snow to make it feel more Christmas-y since the snow hasn’t arrived in Chambéry yet!


L E S   P A P I L L O T E S :

This is the most unique tradition I’ve noticed during my time here! A papillote is a chocolate wrapped in festive paper traditionally used to decorate the table for Christmas dinner! The original papillote comes with a joke and a firecracker on the inside! How cool is that?! In fact, legend has it that a young man who worked in a candy shop was in love with a  girl downstairs. To attract the young love’s attention, he wrapped love notes around each of the chocolates and tossed them into her window. The owner of the candy shop found out their little secret and found it original. This idea soon became a delicious tradition and is enjoyed by people all over the country at Christmas time.


L A   F A M I L L E :

The best for last!… I think the best Christmas tradition is spending time with family and after 4 months of living in France, I’m happy to call these people family. I feel very lucky to have been hosted by such a kind family, they never fail to make me feel at home.

Bonnes Fêtes // Happy Holidays