Monday, October 26, 2009

English... quoi?

English below :) I spent all evening writing a large, large, LARGE report for work and need to turn my head French again.

Aujourd'hui j'ai eu une conversation en anglais avec une autre etudiante. C'etait bizarre. En anglais, je peux parler aussi vite! Et je peux conjuger les verbes! Tellement bizarre.

C'etait le premier jour de classe pour la fille, une anglais. Je pense qu'elle etait un petit-peu accablée, la meme que moi deux semaines passees! Elle m'a demande si les etudiants sortaient ensemble apres la classe... j'ai dit pas vraiment. Malheureusement. Alors peut-etre nous aurions du fun. C'est difficil quand on entre un classe ou tous les autres etudiantes ont etudie ensemble pour plusieures semaines.

La fin de semaine passe je suis allee a une fete... Une fete avec les vrais francais! J'ai essaye de parler francais tout la soiree, mais apres cinq ou six heures avec trop de conversation en francais, me tete arretait de functione. Et j'ai parle en anglais un petit peu avec un quebecois, et le francais qui m'a conduit chez moi. Je m'amuse beaucoup quand les francophones parlent anglais avec leur accents adorable et francais. J'espere qu'ils se amusent quand je parle francais avec un accent... uh... "belle" et "adorable".

Demain j'irai a une classe de pasterie. Je vais creer quelque choses delicieux... avec l'aide de quelqu'un autre. Je veux aussi faire de velo avant la classe, mais j'ai de travail a faire pour UPEI. Apres la classe la soleil va se coucher. L'heure a change ici samedi soir/le matin de dimanche. Alors il y a seulement 4 heures en difference d'ici et l'I-P-E cette semaine.

J'ai porte les shorts samedi, dimanche, et aujourd'hui. C'est fantastique! Mais les autres ne portent pas les vetements d'ete. J'ai vu quelques autres qui portent les vetements froid, mais nous sommmes rares.

Aujourd'hui j'ai parle des elephants dans ma classe. C'etait un bon jour. Aussi, deux semaines passees, j'ai achete un collier avec un elephant.

Mecredi soir Kathleen arrivera en Aix pour quelques jours! Je suis heureuse de sa voyage. Il va etre bizarre d'avoir une visiteure - quelqu'un qui parle anglais, n'est pas suisse, et, en general, quelqu'un que je vois au Canada (et j'espere en Irlande du nord en novembre).

Mon reveil ici est sur l'horaire de 24 heure. Quand j'ai change l'horaire heir, j'ai mis la mauvaise heure. Maintenant mon reveil dit 11h58... pas 23h58. Whoops. Je me suis reveillee ce matin a... 20h50. Ma tete n'a pas compris comment j'ai dormi tout la nuit ET le jour... et pourquoi il y avait du soleil a la soiree.

Alors, je vais essayer de dormir. Trop difficil.

A bientot!

[with Google Translate, our most favourite website in the world]
Today I had a conversation in English with other students [google error: clearly I wrote this in singular. There was only one other student). It was strange. In English, I can talk so fast! And I can conjugate verbs! So weird.

It was the first day of school for the girl, one English. I think it was a small little overwhelmed, the same as me two weeks ago! She asked whether the students went out together after class ... I said not really. Malheursement. So maybe we'll have fun. It's tough when you enter a class or (where! I don't use accents and google does not like that) all the other students studied together for several weeks.

The weekend pass I went to a party ... A celebration with the real French! I tried to speak French all evening, but after five or six hours with too much conversation in French, my head stopped to function. And I spoke in English a little bit with a Quebecois, and French that led me home (non, google, a french person who drove me home!). It'sa lot of fun when the French speak English with their French accents and adorable. I hope they amuse themselves when I spoke French with an accent ... uh ... "beautiful" and "adorable."

Tomorrow I will go to a class of pasteries. I'll create something delicious ... with the help of someone else. I also want to make bike before class, but I have work to do for UPEI. Class after the sun goes to bed. Time has changed here Saturday night / Sunday morning. While there are only 4 hours difference between now and the ECI (not sure how that happened.. I wrote l'I-P-E) this week.

I wore shorts Saturday, Sunday and today. It's fantastic! But others do not wear summer clothes. I have seen some other clothes that are cold, but we are worried rare.

Today I talk of elephants in my class. It was a good day. Also, two weeks ago, I bought a necklace with an elephant.

Kathleen wednesday evening arrive in Aix for a few days! I am happy about her trip. It will be strange to have a visitor - someone who speaks English, is not Swiss, and, in general, someone I know in Canada (and I hope in Northern Ireland in November).

My awakening (ha, alarm clock!) here is on schedule to 24 hours. When I change the time yesterday, I put the wrong time. Now I wake said (my alarm clock reads)... 11:58 not 23h58. Whoops. I woke up this morning at. .. 20.50. My head did not understand how I slept all night and day ... and why there was the evening sun.

So I'll try to sleep. Too difficult.

A bientot!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

France, at you I point my sexy eyes

Have I mentioned lately that I like it here?

No, seriously - I *really* like it here.

Also, it's hard to have a personality in another language. I feel so... boring and unenergetic. I'm not unenergetic, but I can't seem to throw as much excitement into speaking as I want to. I think the last part to come with language is being able to be yourself, and be absolutely hilarious without having to resort to physical humour.

My class is comprised of, this week, myself, an Aussie lady, a Norwegian lady, and five suisse. The Suisse appear to be taking over my school. Don't get me wrong, they are all lovely, but I thought there would be a bit more diversity. They said it was earlier in the fall, but lots of Suisse appear to be filtering into the school lately. I was thinking that the Suisse tend to be very serious, but then realised perhaps I come off as very serious in French. They also don't talk loudly. I feel Aussie lady and I have booming voices. Common-wealth = loud. Aussie lady (a recent retiree) is fantastic and I'll be sad to see her go. We're slightly on the same wave length and I think Australia and Canada actually has a bit of a similar culture. She was asked in an afternoon class about the Aussie process of having dinner guests. She told me the following day (we are in morning classes only together) that she said, "Well, people come over. We eat." And we both laughed at a lady dressed in a ridiculous leopard print long fur coat with a funny suitcase when we were having lunch yesterday.

Ahh, lunch. I am starting to experience the culinary world of Aix. Saturday night past I went to a Spanish tapas restaurant with a fellow hiker from that day. Yup, first restaurant in France was Spanish. But sooo good. Also had my first glass of wine that night. Yup, I was in France more than a week before finally sipping l'eau de la France. Yesterday I experienced with the Aussie mate a restaurant lunch sandwich. I order "la mixte" - jambon et fromage... quelque choses. Ham and a kind of cheese I now forget. I figured it would be a panini and have tomato and perhaps some other vegetable on it. Nope. Comes out on a 3/4-length baguette. Slice ham. Huge slices of delicious cheese. Cold.


I mean, it was good and all... but almost seemed like a pointless lunch. The type of lunch you eat when the only reason you are eating is to avoid starvation.

My lunch today, however.... yum. First French restaurant experience. Or at least I assume it was French cuisine. It was food. In French. From a kitchen. I had the entree + plat (appetizer and main) for 17,50EUR. To start was a small salad with yummy shrimp and a vinagrette oily yum dressing. On the side was minced veggies served in the shape of a cylinder. Very good.

Pour plat was lamb, potatoes, and olives, in some kind of sauce. The lamb was tender, delicious, and, of course, "yummy". I don't know why people eat cow when lamb is available. The pommes de terre were about the size and shape of small scallops and, shock, soo gooooood. The olives were fine. I ate a few of them to see if I like olives yet. I didn't gag or crinkle my nose, so it's a start. So while they don't make me want to die any longer, I still don't care for them and will not be purchasing any soon. My stomach and I were very happy after this meal. Sure, kind of pricey for lunch, but quality was fantastic and I haven't really eaten supper. So it was filling!


In non-food news... oh, who are we kidding? France is clearly all about food. And les manifestations (protests) et les greves (strikes).

Saturday I went hiking up Montagne Sainte-Victoire avec other students. Fantastic hike, ended up about 1000m up. I have pics on FB if anyone cares to see. Took about 4 hours, including "les pauses" when we ate lunch, and photo taking.

Sunday I went on a excursion with classmates, organized by the school. We went to three towns/villages. The first, l'Ile-sur-la-Sorgue (or something like that) has the second largest market in France. It was pretty, but I wasn't so interested. A market is a market.

Second stop was Rousillon - which was amazing. They have tonnes of ocre in the soil, making it a dramatic red/orange. They used the land to make their houses, so the houses are wonderful colours of yellow, orange, and red. We went to a parc with walking trails through the ocre.. umm.. site. I loved it - it felt like I had stepped into a prehistoric land.

Last stop was Gordes, officially one of the prettiest places in the world. It was high up, ridiculously windy, and, shock, alarmingly pretty.

Annnnnd huge flash of lightening. That means I hide because I hate storms. Le sigh.

Au revoir.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Et maintenant, Google Translate

English version below!

J'ai decide d'ecrire en francais aujourd'hui parce que nous parlons beaucoup dans nos classes, mais nous n'ecrivons pas beaucoup. Pour moi, ceci est bonne, parce que je peux ecrire en francais (avec beaucoup des erreurs), mais c'est plus difficil de parler la langue. Particulerement si je suis fatiguee. En ce cas, les mots qui tombent de ma bouche sont un melange bizarre de francais, anglais et un petit-peu d'espanol. Comme hier soir: j'ai dormi et je me suis reveillee pour quitter l'appartement j'ai voulu dire a ma colocataire "hier soir" (last night), mais j'ai dit "la noche passe". La noche = night in Spanish, et passe est un period de temps passe plus qu'un jour (je le pense).

Les chose ici sont beaucoup plus chere qu'au Canada. Le shampooing est a peut pres 3€50 pour un bouteille de peut-etre 275 mL. Mais ca inclurre le VTT (taxe), alors.. je ne sais pas. Peut etre c'est la difference d'acheter les chose a Wal-mart vs Shoppers Drug Mart. A SDM c'est generalment au moins que $1,50 plus cher. Les choses qui ne sont pas cheres (je cherchais "cheap" et "inexpensive" dans mon dictionnaire et c'a dit "pas cher" et "bon marche" - je n'aime pas ces mots, alors peut-etre je vais creer un mot nouveau?) sont les livres pour apprendre francais, ou specificment pour aider les gens avec leur francais. Par example, au Canada un bescherelle est entre $17-22, ici je l'ai trouve pour 7€50 ($11CAD). Et, meilleure, j'ai achete un bescherelle plus petit et un petit livre de grammaire, chacun etaient seulement 3€50. C'etait dans un grand magasin qui s'appelle "Geant Casino" (avec un accent sur le 'e'). Quand je l'ai vu, j'ai pense que c'etait un casino (le meme mot qu'en anglais). Mais j'ai vu les gens qui ont quitte la magasin avec la nourriture, les jouets, les sacs rempli des autre choses, alors non, ce n'etait pas un casino. ETTT, la meilleure chose - il y avait un toilet au centre commercial (Geant Casino n'etait pas la seule magasin - il y avait les autres avec les vetement que j'ai voulu desperetment acheter!).

Le bataille pour trouver les toilettes en Aix c'est terrible. Je ne trouve pas aucun toilette dans la ville, sauf a mon ecole et chez moi. En general, aux pays European, il y a les toilet aux grand magasins, comme Monoprix. Mais pas ici. Le sigh. Je n'ai jamais demande au restaurant. C'est aussi domage.

Aujourd'hui j'ai fait du velo a la campagne. Mon adventure etait a peu pres 40 - 45 km. Comme dimanche, c'a commence avec un grand colline. Pas grand comme plus raide (steep?), mais un petit raide pour beaucoup de kilometres. Si on divide l'effort entre la journee la, et la journee retourner, c'est 75% / 25%. Mais je l'aime comme ca. Je pense que j'aurais un adventure a la sud de la ville que c'a va etre l'oppose.

Aujourd'hui apres la classe je suis allee a la marche a plein-air pour la premiere fois. C'est beaucoup plus different que la marche a Charlottetown - les fruits et les legumes a chaque table. J'ai achete des fraises. Ils etaient.. okay. Pas mal, mais pas formidable, pour 3€50. A mardi il y a aussi les tables aux autres rues avec les vetement - beaucoup des boots! Je suis contente que j'ai pris en sac extra a France... j'ai besoin les boots et les chandails... Umm, parce qu'on ne vend pas ces choses au Canada, ne c'est pas? Uh oh.

Hier il y avait beaucoup de vent ici. On s'appelle "les mistrals". Je pense que la vitesse de vent etait entre 45-65 km/h. C'est comme l'I-P-E :P Je portais les shorts and short sleeves, et les personnes me concernaient. Aujourd'hui il a fait froid au matin, mais le soleil etait forte quand l'apres midi est arrivee. Les personnes ici portent les pantaloon, les boots, et les manteaus maintenant. Mais pas moi, c'est mon derniere chance de bronzee ma peau.

Pendant mon adventure de velo, j'ai vu des fiches d'arrets pour la permiere fois. Mais ils ont dit STOP, pas arrete. Il y a les feux ou les roundabouts aux autres carrefours. (Carrefour dont je le cherche dans mon dictionnaire. Cest aussi le nom d'un autre grand magasin ici - comme le Geant Casino!) Umm, je fais du velo au roundabouts. J'avais peur la premiere fois, mais ce n'est pas complique. Je pense (j'espere!) que les confucteurs sont... used to... les personnes aux velos sur les rues.

C'est apres minuit, et je suis un disastre chaque matin, alors je cherche mon lit maintanent.

Bonne nuit !

Regard! C'est anglais! -- Look, it's English!

I was lazy and just stuck this into Google Translate.

I decided to write in French today because we talk a lot in our classes, but we do not write much. To me, this is good because I can write in French (with many errors), but it's harder to speak the language. Particularly and if I'm tired. In this case, words that fall from my mouth are a strange mixture of French, English breakfast and a little Spanish. Like last night I slept and I woke to leave the apartment I wanted to tell my roommate yesterday evening (last night), but I said "la noche passe". La noche = night in Spanish and passe is a happening period of time passes more than a day (I think).

The thing here is much more expensive than in Canada. The shampoo is considered to be roughly 3€50 a bottle may be 275 mL. But ca inclurre mountain biking (fee) (note: VTT is value added tax, which I typed in French above.. but it's also mountina biking... I mean tax in this case :P) , then .. I do not know. Maybe the difference is to buy something at Wal-mart vs. Shoppers Drug Mart. A SDM is generalmente that at least $ 1.50 more expensive. Things that are not expensive (I was looking for "cheap" and "inexpensive" in my dictionary and there has said "pas chere" and "bien marche" - I do not like this, then maybe I'll create a new word?) are the books to learn French or specificment to help people with their French. For example, in Canada a Bescherelle is between $ 17-22, here I found for 7 € 50 ($ 11CAD). And better, I bought a Bescherelle smaller and a little grammar book, each were only 3 € 50. It was in a store called "Geant Casino" (with an emphasis [Note from Jen: accent!] on the 'e'). When I saw him I thought it was a casino (the same word in English). But I saw people who left the store with food, toys, bags full of other things, then no, it was not a casino. ETTT, the best thing - there was a toilet at the mall (Geant Casino was not the only store - there were others with the clothes I wanted desperetment buy!).

The battle to find the toilet in Aix is terrible. I can not find any toilet in the city, except at my school and home. In general, European countries, there are the toilet with large stores such as Monoprix. But not here. Le sigh. I never asked the restaurant. It's also a shame.

Today I had the bike in the countryside. My adventure was about 40 - 45 km. Since Sunday, It began with a large hill. Not much longer as steep (steep?), But a little steep for many kilometers. If we divide the effort between the day there, and the day return is 75% / 25%. But I like it like that. I think I had an adventure south of the city that this has will be the opposite.

Today after class I went to the march outdoors for the first time. It's much different than walking in Charlottetown - fruits and vegetables at each table. I bought strawberries. They were .. okay. Not bad but not great, for 3 € 50. On Tuesday there are tables to other streets with clothes - a lot of boots! I am glad that I took in a bag outside France ... I need the boots and sweaters ... Umm, because we do not sell these things in Canada, does not it? Uh oh.

Yesterday there was a lot of wind here. It is called "Mistral". I think the wind speed was between 45-65 km / h. It's like PEI: P I wore shorts and short sleeves, and people concerned me. Today it was cold in the morning but the sun was high when the noon is after arrival. The people here are the Pantaloon, the boots, and now manteaus. But not me, it's my last chance to Bronzee my skin.

During my adventure of cycling, I saw sheets stops for permiere time. But they said stop, no stops. There are lights or roundabouts to other intersections. (Carrefour which I look in my dictionary. Cest also the name of another department store here - as the Geant Casino!) Umm, I do the bike at roundabouts. I was scared the first time, but it's not complicated. I think (I hope!) That are confucteurs ... used to ... people with bicycles on the streets.

It's after midnight and I'm Disasters each morning, so I sought my bed maintanence.

[I read what Google decide I said - hilarious. Note to self to not rely on online translators without re-reading the output and applying common sense! I'm hoping it's mostly the programme and my French truly isn't that bad? Could aso be because I don't use accents - they take too much time.]

Good night!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Collines vs. Montagnes

Today velo (bicycle) and I went on an adventure together in the mountains. I called them hills, but my landlady said not to call them hills, people call them mountains. And indeed there were mountains around, but I guess it didn't feel like I was biking up a mountain, just one extremely large hill. I think it took me about a quarter of the time to get back to Aix then it did to get me to wherever it was I went. I probably went only about 35 km or so, but 85% of the effort was put forth going east. As I said, I pretty much sailed home.

Until my bike tire stopped working. I'm not sure how it happened, but after pedalling through the "mountains", downtown in search of a bank machine, and almost all the way home, my back tire shifted at the last intersection (about 10m from my house) and would no longer turn. After some fidgetting, I realised that the tire was rubbing against the chain stay. Not sure how that happened at all. So I bonked around and fixed it, and got a bit messy.

Last night I went to "Monoprix", which I had been to before in different French cities. This was different, however. First, it was massive. It put Super Wal-Mart to shame. Second, it was a freaking zoo. Slightly overwhelming for this Canadian lass. I kind of panicked and hopped off with not so much food, which was fine as it was getting dark. It had a huge grocery section with a bakery, butcher, fromagerie (I don't know if that's a word, but a cheese counter), frozen food, fresh produce, EVERYTHING. Although the entire complex was called Monoprix, it was almost like Monoprix was the anchor of a mall. There was some other smaller stores in hallways: Bata, McDonalds, another bakery type place, random shops.

So, I didn't really expect this, but Aix and environs are great for hiking-type people for short one-day trips. I biked to what I thought was... actually I had no idea what it was. But it turned out to be tonnes of hiking/mountain biking trails ! There was a MASSIVE dam there too, with incredibly blue water. This was when I realised that I was up much higher than I thought - looking down on the Earth below.

Two things I had a hunch would happen before leaving home: 1) Losing sunglasses, and 2) Being mistaken for an Italian. Both happened yesterday. Sunglasses are... somewhere. I think at Monoprix in the parking lot. Cute old man who was blabbering away to me in the line-up where I bought my bike asked if I was Italian. Nope, sorry sir.

Blah blah blah. I'm basically killing time waiting for my Facebook photos to upload.

First day of school tomorrow! Will anyone pack me a lunch?

Saturday, October 10, 2009


I cheated in the subject above. There is supposed to be an accent on the 'e', but if you write in all caps you don't need to use accents. Thank you, "A Year in the Merde"!

Today was a bit surreal. I was wandering through the old part of Aix thinking, "This is grungy..." But it's been awhile since I've been in Europe and have been in areas more than, oh, 110 years old. It's actually not grungy, and the city is littered with fountains. Anyone who has travelled with me understands that I greatly appreciate a fountain.

The biggest one is in the middle of a large roundabout, so you can't actually walk up to it, nor are you supposed to.

I was going to go to a market to buy food but chose to sleep through the first half of the day. I slept about 12.5 hours, and had the most ridiculous dreams. I saw the market at about 1:30, and there was crap EVERYWHERE. Leftover food littering the square, vehicles in every available inch (people loading up their crop), cops trying to direct traffic. Intense!

The first hour was a bit intimidating. People everywhere. Speaking French. Oh la la.

When speaking to the man at the tourist office (thought I would have to go outside the city to buy a bike, and was concerned that the highways were the only way home) he said I had good French. Someone else said that too. Here's the tricky thing: I *can* speak decent, comprehensible French, which is misleading, as when you respond, I will have no idea what you are saying. I listen for very key words: oui, non, toilette, gauche, droit, etc. Sentences should be simple: subject, verb, preposition, noun. Adverbs and adjectives are useful for directions or instructions. Otherwise, if they are to make your story more amazing, I am not interested.

Now I shall play on VELO RUE ROUGE. (And here I thought I would be getting the French equivalent of the SuperCycle. Pas mal.)

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Secret Thrills of YYZ

Allo mes amis!

Non non.

I have been writing so many emails in French that my brain is turning into mushy French blah blah blah. On the plus side, ecrire-ing many emails in the French has resulted in a temporary home for me.

Places to live are good.

Now I'm in the Toronto Airport, paying astronomical prices to access the vast, vast interweb, confirming my "chambre meublee" (furnished room).

I had a window seat descending into Toronto. It was actually pretty just outside of the city, the quilt of fields, and many trees sprouting (or losing, I suppose) leaves coloured of fire. I also enjoy flying over the ... sigh... not Queensway *thinks intensely* the 401. It's such a smattering of roads and concrete. Lanes of traffic everywhere, overpasses, merge lanes, it thrills the wee geek inside of me that so desperately wanted to be an engineer (specifically to design roller coasters).

I also like flying into Toronto because you can actually *see landmarks*. (At least when flying from the east.) You can see the CN Tower, Roger's Center/Skydome, tall buildings, Toronto Island, etc. It always disappointed me when flying into Orlando that you see... nothing. At least nothing of note considering how many interesting things are scattered throughout the former swamp.

Things of note in Ottawa: a bus "98" exists. Charlene and I rode on it. Had never seen it before. I bought a new camera (but still love my old, broken-zoom camera). I spoke French to Brother's Girlfriend's Mother. She appeared to understand what I was saying. I understood what she was saying [she was intentionally speaking slowly]. I was relieved as after eavesdropping on other French conversations I freaked out about understanding... nothing. Except prepositions. ("Oh, she is something something IN THE something something. How joyous!")

Goals for tomorrow: try not to make an ass out of myself (okay, maybe a little bit), don't miss my train, hope immigration loves me and gives me no hassle, purchase amazing map of Aix, learn ten new French words, AND REMEMBER THOSE FRENCH WORDS. Perhaps even use them in conversation at some point?

Goal for Saturday: purchase amazing bike and begin foray into French culture by biking while carrying a baguette and puppy dog. Not get too lost more than four times. Try not to cry when so lost that I wind up in Spain. (Just kidding! Who would EVER cry about being in SPAIN?)

I watched Big Fish w/ Charlene last night. It's so hard to describe how that movie makes me feel... special and wonderful. I think it should make everyone feel special and wonderful, and realise the love that exists in the world among family, friends, co-workers, EVERYONE.

So that's it folks. Au revoir Canada! Je voyagerai a la France en une heure. Time to write another chapter :)

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Things You Write on Airplanes that Make No Sense

Once, a long time ago, I was on a plane. That plane departed at 6:00am (9:00am PEI time). I had started flying at 6:30 the previous night, had many flight changes due to weather, and had "slept" in an airport for a wee smidgen after arriving at, oh, 2:00am.

I was trying to stay awake on the morning flight, and among the gabs of absolute garbage I had wrote was this gem:

"Am melting now. Need Mr. Kool-Aid Man to save me. Or Sprite Dot. Hair makes neck warm. Jen turns into a puddle of mush and is mopped up and becomes one with a sink of dirty water. Air making nose feel funny. Dry. Want to stick moist baby carrots in each nostral."

And later...

"Need dairy/calcium. Teeth feel like they may fall out. Hope they don't - quite enjoy having all my teeth. Except wisdom teeth (may change name to Wizardon teeth for fun), never grew those, I guess."

And wrote about what people would write about me if I stood up, since I was making stories up about the people that were standing up.


Also wrote about how I had missed out on free liquor on previous flight (flight was delayed, people felt bad, alcohol flowed) because I had fell asleep at had become confused since it was probably 1am PEI time.

Eventually I write, during another flight a few weeks later, how airplane air makes my brain a little kooky. Annnnd, understatement.

Coo Coo!