Laura Goes to France!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

new pictures

Monday, June 8, 2009

J'adore Paris!

Just got back from our free weekend in Paris: I know everyone always says that it's an amazing city, but I'm going to have to agree. The architecture of all the buildings is so beautiful and so unique! It was so cool to see a city that I have only seen in movies. Here are some cliche touristy highlights:

Walking down Champs Elysees. Right when we got to the city we dropped our stuff off at the hotel and went to see the Arc de Triomphe and walk down the Champs Elysees. My group was only 6 people, and we actually ran into two other groups of our study abroad friends who were also visiting Paris. It was fun to see so many other Americans around, with their cameras out and wearing "I heart Paris" t-shirts. I felt like one of those people you see around DC all the time, walking around with a map looking lost. We were not the only visitors in Paris, which is a lot different from the way it feels down in Antibes.

Visiting the Chateau Versailles
. We spent most of the day Saturday looking at the huge palace in Versailles. It was so beautiful and so ornate. I learned that King Louis XVI had his people in severe poverty for years just so he could build this huge "summer home" for himself. The gardens were amazing and they had too many sculptures and fountains to count. Inside was the most ornate house I've ever seen, with a million rooms to get lost in, each one decorated differently. I love things like that so I had a lot of fun just exploring.

Climbing the Eiffel Tower. Sunday we climbed the stairs all the way up to the top! It was pretty cool, but it felt a lot like going to the top of the Washington Monument or the John Hancock building in Chicago. It's still neat to say that I've done it. We found different landmarks around the city while we were up there, like the Arc de Triomphe, Sacre Coeur, Notre Dame, and our hotel (which was only a couple blocks away from the tower!). Random fun fact: Obama was in Paris the same time we were, and we saw his car parade go around the Eiffel Tower!

The Louvre museum. We saw hundreds of sculptures, paintings, mummies... it's amazing how many original works they have in there! I even saw the original Mona Lisa. That museum is so huge, I could have spent a whole day in there. We only got about an hour and half, but it was free on Sunday so I felt like we saw enough. It's kind of cool not covering everything, because I know if I go back I'll have lots of stuff to still explore.

Shopping at H&M. Today we thought our flight left at 1pm, so we were up at 8:30 getting our stuff together so we could get breakfast at a bakery and take a taxi to the airport at 10:30 or so. When we realized our flight didn't leave until 3pm, we figured it would be an excellent time to go shopping! We took the metro over to H&M and went to town. I got a few things that will be really fun to tell everyone I got them in Paris.

I really feel like I got to see a lot of the city, and it was just a great weekend. We spent a lot of money, but how often do you get to tour the city of Paris? Of course it only made me want to explore the rest of the world. I think that if I can figure out the metro system in a French city, I can get my way around anywhere! Maybe one day when I actually have a salary and I'm not borrowing Dad's money...

We only have one week left and it's kind of making me sad. I miss people at home but I've had so much fun getting to know people here. I highly suggest studying abroad to anyone who is considering it. Please be brave and do it! Even if you don't know anyone going. It teaches you so much about yourself and about other people, just being in a different community and culture. I am so glad I went on this trip, and I really feel like God's been taking care of me and giving me the best situations possible. It's cool that I can see Him working in a place where I don't even have any Christian friends. God is good.

Monday, June 1, 2009


In case any of you were wondering, here is my address in France:

Laura Yantz
c/o Pierre & Vacances
1, avenue Frederic Mistral

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Port Cros Island

So let me tell you about the trip where I had the time of my life and wore no makeup. On Wednesday May 27, we took the ferry to an island out in the Mediterranean called Port Cros. The majority of the island is a national park, and only about 40 something people live there (google it, it's pretty sweet). We all stayed in little rooms right by the beach - it felt like camp. The day we got there we hiked around and saw some of the island, snorkeled in a pretty bay, and layed out on the beach. We literally were hiking up on a mountain and right next to the water at the same time. The Mediterranean Sea is gorgeous - I have never seen anything like it!

Thursday we went on a long hike in the morning and saw some more great views, and then in the afternoon we went SCUBA DIVING! It was so incredible, I don't even feel like it really happened. We only went down about 20 feet, but it was great. I saw 2 red starfish and schools of lots of different kinds of fish. I felt like I was in some type of simulator. It was weird trying to breathe but I got used to it after a while. I wish I could have taken a video of it all!

The island was really fun because we just got hang out with everyone, not care what we looked like, get a lot of exercise, and see some incredible bits of God's creation. We also had a blast just getting to know each other more. I'm excited to see what the rest of the trip will hold, because it's already been amazing!

p.s. Here is my facebook photo album

Monday, May 25, 2009

Ramatuelle & Gassin

Today we took an excursion as the whole group, planned by the professors, to a couple other places in the French Riviera. We took a bus to Ramatuelle, an ancient medieval city built somewhere near the 8th or 9th century. On the way there, I talked to one of the girls, Lauren, for most of the ride (until I got carsick at the end :\ ). Her stepdad is was in the hospital for the past month or so, and yesterday he died. Obviously she is very shaken up by this, mainly because she can't be at home to be with her mom during this hard time. We just talked a lot about the situation, and her life in general. It was really cool to get to know her and hear some of her life story. If anyone wants to pray for her family's emotional and financial situation that would be awesome.

The city of Ramatuelle was pretty, but I felt like we didn't get to see very much of it. We were only there for maybe 1/2 an hour and we had a tourguide that really only told us a few things. Afterwards we went to lunch at an amazing outdoor restaurant called Couleurs Jardin, meaning colorful garden. It was so beautiful - right on the coast of the Mediterranean! There was a big tree growing through the middle of the outdoor deck and there were colorful Gerbera daisies on the table. We had fresh bass that was delicious. Afterwards we took a walk down to the beach, and then went to another city called Gassin. Gassin sits on top of a mountain and has a beautiful overlook over valleys and mountains. You can even see as far as the sea. We walked through the most narrow road in the entire world, looked at cute little boutiques, and I bought a painting at an artist's shop. One of my favorite parts was walking down the road with all of the outdoor cafes and smelling hundreds of fresh flowers. They were everywhere!

We got home and I literally put my stuff down, changed into my swimsuit, and hopped in the pool. It felt amazing after a long day in the sun! I don't think I've seen a cloudy day yet. And I'm not really wanting to. Tonight we played some card games over at the guys' apartment. I really feel like our group is starting to bond. It's hard to get to know everyone when there are 21 people here, but I want to at least try to get to know as much as I can about people. We spend so much time together and do everything together so I think we are starting to get really comfortable. Some of the girls I've met here are really great, and I'm already looking forward to continuing our relationships back at Tech. This trip has already stretched me so much, and I feel like it will keep stretching me further. I feel like God is really teaching me how to love people, and not in the way that I want to or the people I think I should love. He's teaching me to love those who are hard to love, those who I just happened to be placed in a room with, and even those who intimidate me. I've gone back and looked at my prayer journal since I've been here, and every single day I've thanked God for this opportunity to be here because it's so fun and such an amazing experience. I guess you could say I'm enjoying it!

That's all for now. I want to post pictures but it won't let me load them on here. Here is a link to my Facebook album. Wednesday to Friday we are going to an island called Port Cros, so I will probably post after that!

Cannes, Monaco, & Italy

Where do I begin... Let's start with our first real excursion to the Cannes Film Festival. Thursday we took the train to Cannes and let loose on the streets. There was so much to see and do! There were a lot of nice cars, really dressed up people, and people were just everywhere. It felt a lot like an American festival in a way, people doing acts on the street (one guy was smoking 4 cigarettes and eating razor blades, kind of grossed me out) and lots of places to shop and eat. We ended up eating a late lunch at a cute pizza place, where I got one of the best pizzas I've ever had. It had some type of ham or salami and red peppers - amazing. After lunch we walked around some more and eventually made it over to the calmer part of the city and explored tiny narrow streets and cute apartments with flower boxes and clothes lines hanging outside the windows. We eventually made it up to the top of a hill where a church stood, and the view was breathtaking. You could see the whole bay, all of the festival, and all the cute European houses covering the mountains. The U.S. is beautiful, but here just looks so different. We don't build cities on our mountains like the French do.

The next day (Friday) we had to get up really early to make it to the Marriott at Monaco for a presentation from their events manager (I guess this is the learning part). She brought us up to some of the rooms that have an ocean view and told us that people pay an obscene amount of money for a room like that on the weekend of the Grand Prix. After the presentation, we went down to the city of Monaco. It's actually a separate principality that is not part of France - they have their own laws that are enforced by French police. We walked around the city and took a look at the track where the cars would race on Sunday. We saw the Monte-Carlo Casino, where there is a 20 Euro cover charge just to get in (notice I said we "saw" it). We also saw some pretty sweet cars like Ferraris, Porsches, Maseratis... they were everywhere. We stumbled across a pretty church where we took a break from the busyness that was going on in the streets. Oh, another thing we saw in Monaco and Cannes - HUGE yachts, bigger than the ones we have in Antibes. We saw more than a few that we wanted to jump on and live the life of luxury. I don't understand why no one invited us to any yacht parties. We were a little sad about that.

Saturday we had class at 1pm (13:00 European time), so we basically had a relaxation day after all of our travelling. We laid out at the pool and after class went down to Intermarche (the grocery store) to restock our refridgerators. It's so convenient having a kitchen here, and so different from other study abroad programs where they have a cook for the whole house to make every meal. One of the guys, Allen, offered to collect 3 Euro from everyone and make a big group dinner. Because we didn't have to worry about cooking, Mirranda, Stephanie, and I went to the downtown area to look around at the shops and try to find a watch for me. It was so fun - they have some really cute stores here and their clothes are cute and pretty cheap. We found a great jewelry store where I got some teal and silver earrings that I'm really excited about. When we got back we had dinner outside with the whole group - chicken with some kind of lemon marinade, ratatouille, and rice. It was scrumptious!

Sunday was a free day, so a group of us decided to take a day trip to Italy. Our plan was to meet at the lobby at 9:45 to catch the 10:18 train, but since I had the alarm in my room we all ended up waking up at about... 9:45. Thank you Mom and Dad for the heavy sleeper gene. Thankfully there was another train leaving at 10:48, and our group was nice enough to wait for us to get ready for that one. It ended up working out, except that I didn't get to shower when I hadn't showered since Friday morning, and I also forgot to put on deoderant. Let's just say that Jamie (a light sleeper) will be keeping the alarm clock in her room from now on.

We only went as far as Ventimiglia, which is right across the border in Italy and on the coast. It was a cute little town and it was neat to see a different culture, language, and people group. I felt they were much more receptive to foreigners, and the guys were more vocal about their opinions of a bunch of American girls walking down the street. We ate at an authentic Italian restaurant, where I got the best ravioli ever. It had basil inside of it, and was covered with tomato basil sauce. Sooo yummy. I am pretty sure I'm not losing weight on this trip... Afterwards we walked around a bit, and went down to the beach. It was covered in rocks! Such a different feel than sand. We laid out and just had some great girl time. I took my first dip in the Mediterranean Sea, and it was wonderful. We headed back around 5:30, but not before stopping for Gelato!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

First couple days in France!

I can't believe I am in France right now... I AM IN FRANCE! Wow there is already so much to tell, I feel like more than 2 days have already happened. Traveling here was long but we had no problems and got to Antibes at about 3pm (9am Eastern time). We got to our hotel and the door was locked so we couldn't get in for a while. I guess I'm glad it's secure but we had all of our luggage and we were so ready to drop it off and explore! They have weird hours for everything here. The front desk at our hotel is closed from 12pm to 5pm - usually the times you need to get help and information. They also take 2 hour lunch breaks so all the shops close at lunch time. I think this is a European thing, and not just done in France.

My apartment feels like Ikea! We have 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms (well sort of, one doesn't have a toilet, just a sink and shower that's kind of broken, and the other shower does not have door or a curtain. It's a big bathroom so I feel really exposed when I'm showering!), a kitchenette, living area, and a cute little garden outside. I will upload some pictures when the internet allows me to.

There are 21 students on the trip - 5 being guys. So far it's been fun to get to know the girls in my apartment as well as the others on the trip. Yesterday we just spent our time getting settled in, set up our Skype accounts, and went out to dinner as a group. Later at night after dinner, Mirranda, Landon, Lisa and I went for a walk down by the marina and checked out the boats, or YACHTS rather. So huge and so obvious of how much money is in this area.

Today we took a walk around the downtown area, exchanged some of our money for Euros, and went to the grocery store. In the afternoon we laid out by the pool working on our tan... er reading our textbooks, and then had "class" right next to the pool in our swimsuits. Today it's in the 70s and sunny, not a cloud in the sky. And it's only supposed to get warmer... I'm loving it!

Tomorrow we are taking the train to see the Cannes Film Festival that has been going on since 1946. Maybe I will see some celebrities! Friday we are going to Monaco to see the Grand Prix and check out the casinos. Will write about those soon!