A Morning at the Market

A Morning  at the Market

When imagining the food markets of Paris two hundred years
ago, one imagines bustling streets filled with colorful tents and hundreds of
people bartering for fresh foods. With the exceptions of cars replacing horses,
and cash registers replacing satchels filled with coins, the market feels like
a walk back in time.  When I arrived with
my host family I was overwhelmed with sights and smells. My host parents and I
paraded through the tents and bought the week’s groceries.

The vegetables were
bigger and brighter than anything I had ever seen before. The aromas of fresh
cheeses were overpowering. Roast chickens were sold immediately after being
cooked and fresh oysters stacked in crates lined the walls of the fish section.
My family bought just enough food to feed them through the week.

As we made our way back to the car, I realized how heavy my
bag of groceries was, how sore my feet were, and just how inefficient that
entire experience was. How could an entire country have the time and patience
to purchase food in this manner?  It took
us hours to make our way through the market, socializing and bartering with an
excited Sunday morning community.

At the same time a came to the realization that this way of live was so fulfilling. The discerning eyes of my host parents handpicked every piece of food that went home with us. Despite the fact that the food we purchased would spoil in the matter of a week, nothing was wrapped in plastic, or laced with preservatives.  My
experience made me realize that this is simply a better way of living. It is
not always was lasts the longest or takes the least amount of time that is
best. It was the experience of walking through a market which has been
providing locally grown food to a city for hundreds of years which brought
about this change in the way I see food.

Musee d’Orsay!


Our schedule got changed due to a strike on the metro and train systems on Thursday, so we went to see Impressionist paintings in Musée d’Orsay today. I LOVED this trip. I especially liked the paintings done by Manet, Monet, de Nitti, and Degas. I got to see some of my inspirations in real life! The Van Gogh hall was packed with people, but I was able to see “Starry Night” and some cool sculptures.

Musee d’Orsay used to be a train station. The area where the trains stopped has been filled in with sculptures and paintings.

We ate in Musée d’Orsay, at its restaurant. The decorations were unbelievable. It felt like I was eating in the middle of the Hall of Mirrors. There were large, crystal chandeliers, gold embellishments, and two huge mirrors on either side of the room. On the ceiling were enormous, original paintings (from when the museum was a train station). The food was the best I have ever had.

Pimpin’ out in Musée d’Orsay. This was definitely the fanciest place I have ever eaten at. There was so much gold everywhere; and the murals on the ceilings were amazing.

Musee d’Orsay’s restaurant is so fancy! I feel so sophisticated haha.

Alex and Rebecca in Musee d’Orsay.

After Musee d’Orsay, we went on a boat tour on the Bateau Pont Neuf along the Seine River. We saw Notre Dame, an island city within Paris (the oldest, and most expensive), and many palaces along the river. I also got to see the bridge used in the movie “Inception” (I love that movie, it’s awesome).

While we were walking down the street, to make our way from the Seine to the metro, we were captured in a movie. A crowd of about ten mopeds with two people each (one holding a professional grade camera on three or four of the mopeds) got our groups in a couple of their shots! They might have something to do with all of the news vans we saw near the French Parliament building.

Overall, today was my favorite day of the trip!

My Home Away From Home

Before leaving for France I was very excited. I was extremely nervous to meet my host family and see how my host siblings would react to having me in their home. I was told that I would have two sisters- Anais (22) and Chlotilde (16) and one brother- Alexis (20). During the week I also met Anais’ boyfriend, Sullivan who is 23 years old.

From left to right: Alexis, Chlotilde, Sullivan, Anais, Florence, Julie (Me) and Jerome

When I first got to their home they were very welcoming, but I still felt a bit uncomfortable. The day we arrived was my first attempt at living a whole new way of life.  The first evening, Anais took me out to meet up with one of her friends. I really enjoyed being able to see the two of them interact; their friendship resembled the type of friendships I have with my own friends.  After this evening Anais and I began to interact a lot more often at home. Chlotilde and I picked up our friendship one evening when we were left home alone. Choltilde made us dinner, croque-monsieur. We ate in front of the TV, which was very out of the ordinary after eating dinner in the kitchen, as a family, the last five nights. This meal allowed us the chance to talk and get to know each other. We learned that both of us struggled with learning the other language, but managed to mix them together to have a conversation. By the time Friday rolled around I was really sad to know I only had one night left with my family. We had a big potluck dinner that evening with my fellow classmates and their host families. At the time Alexis was now home which allowed me the opportunity to get to know him. At the dinner I had a lot of fun hanging out with my siblings. We were getting along so well I tried to brush off the thought of leaving the next day. When we arrived back at the house that night I began to pack up my bag. The kids all came in my room and one by one gave me bisous and said their goodbyes. A warm feeling of friendship over came me at that moment. I knew at that point that the experience I had with the family was one I would remember forever. Visiting France was an awesome experience that helped me fully immerse myself in the French culture.

Bonjour, Histoire!

For me, a trip to France meant the culmination and fulfillment of every romantic dream I ever had.  The chance to go was something I always told myself I would grab at the first opportunity presented.  At the same time, once the prospect was placed in front of me, I second guessed my motives.  What if I only wanted to go so badly because that was what all romantic people wanted and I was merely following an empty trend?  All my fears were put to rest almost immediately.

The significance of what we saw in France goes deeper than just what we observed and what we did.  The sights themselves were breathtaking, of course, even without context or a frame of reference to place them in, but once they were seen in the light of their true purpose and meaning, our travels became an experience as opposed to simply a check off my bucket list.

Versailles is one of my favourite examples of how awe can be inspired through knowledge.  The structure is immense, beautiful, and powerful in its own right. Think of the majesty of a castle with a thousand bedrooms. Now consider that same castle, only with not a thousand – not even two thousand – but three thousand nobles housed, kept, and daily regulated inside by the man who built it.   That man was Louis XIV.  To have stood in this building myself, even centuries later, truly held me breathless.

Same for the Eiffel Tower…

And for the château in Bailly…

And for the former courtyard of the chateau in Noisy.

And as we went, as we learned, I began to grasp the substance of what we were seeing – until it wasn’t just that I saw, but that I experienced.

Bonne Cuisine


When I went to France as a part of my Communities, Cultures, and Connections FYE I ate what was by far the best food I have ever had.  I know that the American sterotype of French food is that it is too fancy and the the portions are too small, but these were the first things I forgot at my first meal.  Essentially both are true, French food is quite fancy compared to American food and the portions are much smaller, but neither of these are a bad thing.  What Americans call fancy is just the French norm; they make the best food that they can and serve it the best way they can.  This makes for a great experience that sharply contrasts to the plainess of American eating habits.  The portions are small by anyone’s standard, but they always taste so good!  In general, I think the French are able to do a lot more with a lot less.

As much as I would like to highlight all of my eating experiences in France, that would take too long and I do not feel like writing that much, so I will try to summarize the highlights.  On my first night in France my host-family had a dinner party with some of their friends.  I know that there were appetizers but I do not remember what they were.  The first course was this brown soupy stuff with nuts in the middle that I latter found out involved muscles, but I didn’t care at the time because it was very good.  If you are looking for specific names of foods I can’t give them to you, they are not the things that I remember.  The main course was pheasant with potatoes, which was amazing.  For dessert there was a few different things, but what I remember was this vanilla ice cream that I think was called Crate d’Or, which was by some of the best ice cream I have ever had.  Later I drank regular tea, which is not something I usually do, but actually enjoyed.  This was a great way to start my time in France.

Since I feel like I am about to end up writing a blog post of more than a thousand words I will only briefly summarize three more of my experiences.  On Monday we ate lunch at a resturant by the Eiffel Tower.  This where I first tried and feel in love with påté.  I had duck påté as a first course and it was awesome.  My main course was steak and fries, not something you would expect to get in France but quite good.  The fries were just as good if not better than the ones in Amreica, and the steak, though smaller, was delicious.  It had some sort of butter on top that made it even better.

On Wednesday we ate lunch in a resturant in Musee d’Orsay.  The food was great, but really I just want to show these pictures of the resturant:


Salmon or fish of some sort



To sum it up, I miss French food evrey day and am looking forward to my return to France, even though that may not be for a couple more years.  It was an incredible experience that I will never forget and hope to continue one day.




My Fantastic Trip to France!!!

As an essential part of our Cultures, Connections and Communities class taught by Dr. Dianne Guenin-Lelle, we took a trip to France to put into practice many things we had learned about cultural understanding between Americans and the French. It was in our own way, a chance to try to blend in with the people and integrate into their society. In the moments we spent there, we found ourselves truly understanding our place in the French culture. Here is my story.

I stayed with my family called, “The Amsler’s”. My mother’s name was Emmanuelle and my father’s name was Frédéric. I had one brother Alexis (almost 17) and two sisters Pauline (15) and Capucine (12). If you could imagine the moments leading up to the first meeting between us all, I was really nervous and I had no idea what to expect or how they would think of me. I hoped their first impression of me would be very good. I meet my father first and the excitement I could see in his eyes enlightened my world. I couldn’t help but smile. The first handshake was firm yet polite I think. From this moment on I knew that my family would be the greatest and as it turns out, they are.

Before going, we learned much about family life in France. We learned kids were raised to show respect and obedience to their parents. This was true! Also, we learned that American and French relationships usually crumble due to a language barrier. Indeed. This, I found to be very annoying when I would try to communicate ideas. Having studied only 4 years of French, it was still quite difficult to communicate with others. But their accepting nature and openness in Noisy-le-Roi and Bailly was amazing. I felt at home and at ease over there despite my French.

I made many connections between American and French culture, most interestingly in the educational system in France. A trip to a famous High School that teaches restaurant skills, qualities and business inspired me to look further into its foundation. The system has two separate pathways that the kids choose (one academic and one technical). I find this interesting because it is nothing like I have ever seen before or what we have here in the U.S.

This experience has influenced the direction I’m heading in here at Albion as well! I want to change my major to international studies and business now. This is something I feel necessary. But the best thing that this trip has given me is a new family, one that I have learned to love just as much as my own!

Peace and Love

  Our last night was very bittersweet.  Here we were at our last dinner together in the library in town.   Everyone brought a plate to share and we ate like kings!  It was sad knowing that was our last time all being together and being with our families.

The man in the picture, Henry, was more or less our tour guide. Henry was a very helpful man.  He was very cultured and knew a lot about the area.  It was really neat that he knew about France and also that he had lived in other countries.  I was able to speak Spanish with him which was really rewarding! Also, he stayed behind with me and waited in the cold while I waited for a ride home (there was almost always a miscommunication as to when my family was to pick me up from the train station).  He also took my entire seminar around Paris one afternoon.  And we were quite the group so I’m sure that wasn’t a very easy task.

We’re all holding up peace signs because when we were in the metro one time he comes up to our group holding up the peace sign.  We asked him if two people were missing or something.   We were quite confused.  He paused for a minuet and he then says, “No, peace and love.  Peace and love.”  So for the rest of the trip we would walk around with peace signs saying, “Peace and love, peace and love.”  Hence, the peace signs in the picture.

We were so blessed to have Henry on the trip with us.  He is such a special man and we miss him already!

Des Vacances Pas Comme Les Autres

Fall break is generally a time for Albion students to go home, sleep in their own beds, and escape the daily trip to Baldwin for food. It’s a break from classes to relax and catch up with family and friends. My first year seminar and I, however, had a different experience. We went to France.

The infamous Eiffel Tower at Night

On Oct. 19, my first-year experience seminar called Culture, Connections, and Communities from Albion to France – and Back, taught by Dr. Dianne Guenin-Lelle, traveled to Albion’s sister cities Noisy-le-Roi and Bailly for one week to experience firsthand the dynamics of French culture.

Before our departure, we learned in class how French culture compares and contrasts to American traditions and how one is able to look past differences and establish relationships across cultures.

While in France, we visited famous icons in Paris such as the Eiffel Tower, Musee d’Orsay and Sacre Cour, in addition to the illustrious palace of Versailles.  We explored French cafes and shopping centers but also left time for smaller places around Noisy like middle schools and town halls.

We learned a lot about French history but we were also able to experience the busy modern European city life in each of our activities. This allowed us to see how the French general public differs from Americans.

For example, when Americans accidentally make eye contact with strangers, we may smile to avoid feeling awkward. The French, however, see no reason to smile at anyone they do not personally know.

Personal space also holds different rules across cultures. Americans value their personal bubbles. We take up a lot of room and talk at a large volume. The French, however, do not see any reason to spread out and take up space. They are reserved and compact in both the ways they hold themselves and the level at which they speak.

We were also able to experience essentials of French family life through our varying experiences in separate host families. Some students, myself included, were challenged to interact completely in French with the host family. Others were placed in a house where English was spoken to avoid communication errors. No two host families were the same. As a result each student learned something different about how the French act at home.

This trip to France was one of the best experiences of my life, as I’m sure my classmates would agree. As a result of my week in France, I learned an immense amount about French culture while also establishing new friendships – both with my classmates and my new French friends 4,000 miles away.