Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Locks of Love

I hope you all enjoyed our last FHE (well, second to last if you count the impromptu Icelandic volcano pizza/movie night on Sunday). I know I enjoyed hearing all the amazing things you have all learned during your time in Paris. I was truly inspired by a lot of what you shared. It really has made me think over the past few days as I've been finishing up my time in Paris of the MANY things I've learned here, and like Rebecca said that night, I know I will be realizing things I learned during this Study Abroad experience for the rest of my life.

And I loved the idea of the locks the first time I heard about it from Reba. I love the poetry of leaving this part of you and your time in Paris, and throwing away the key, and I am so glad we all had a chance to take part in the tradition. I think it will be a great experience for you to come back to Paris to find your lock again and remember all the amazing times we have had together. We went on the Pont Neuf boat cruise again today, and it was so fun to go under the bridge and see all our locks lined up there in a row. Here's some pictures of our beautiful night on the Passerelle Léopold-Sédar Senghor.

Lock decor.

Then on to dinner.

I'm still trying to figure out why Steve (and Chelsea) got the Tartare.

Finding a home for our locks.

And I had no idea that Jack had become so attached to his lock and was heartbroken when he realized he had to leave it. We appeased him by giving him Garret's (sorry Garret).

Throwing the key into the Seine.

Our own row of locks.

And if you ever want to find yours again, look for section 23A.

Max and Jack want to go back to see our locks one more time before we leave, and I think we will have to visit them again, and hopefully many other times to come. And thanks so much for being part of the BYU Paris Study Abroad program. It was great getting to know and learn from each of you, and I look forward to seeing you all (hopefully soon) back in the USA.

À Bientôt!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

The Recital

Hey everyone! I know you all thought you'd be home by now, but since you're not, I thought I'd entertain you with some new blog posts.

I wanted to thank Angela and Mike for the great recital the other night, and I know, like everyone, I enjoyed it immensely. Here's the photos:

Mike teaching Jack a few things on the guitar, and during his performance.

Angela at the harp.

It made us laugh, it made us think, and it was overall just beautiful.

Thanks Mike and Angela for sharing your talents with us. It was a great evening!

Monday, April 12, 2010

The French Easter Fiesta

You know, when I made that Mexican meal for Emily and Haley a couple of months ago I swore to never make Mexican in France again. Really, the rice was that bad. But their enthusiasm for my mediocre (at best) attempt made me get enough courage to try again. And I am so glad I did. It was great to have you all over for Easter, and I thought you'd like to see some photos from the feast:

Me telling everyone to come and get it. Max was wise and ate on the top bunk to avoid the feeding frenzy.

The spread: Homemade guacamole, salsa, refried beans, chicken tacos, with a few little French additions, like creme frâiche instead of sour cream, gouda cheese instead of cheddar, and romaine lettuce instead of iceberg.

Luckily cooking for you guys is like shooting fish in a barrel. Especially when you have been Mexican deprived for months.

And everyone has been asking me for THE brownie recipe, so here it is. I know that the end result looked a little like a cyclops alligator, but seeing as there were no leftovers, I'm guessing you all went away satisfied.

Brooklyn, Skye, Emily and Rosalie being attacked by Jack.

The Uno competition.

I know it's hard to be away from your families on the holidays, but thanks so much for spending your Easter with us. And I'm thinking we should all get together for all the major holidays from now on, okay? Great!

Thanks students, I love you guys!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Lovin' The Loire Valley

Yes, it's been like FIVE WEEKS since I've written on this blog, which still amazes me because it seems to have been just a blur of activities, beautiful weather, and visitors. But I'm back, and this time with information on our upcoming Loire Valley trip. I don't know about all of you, but I am really looking forward to hanging with everyone on the rock n' roll tour bus and checking out a new part of France. Oh yeah, and the castles and stuff.

So, I thought I'd give you some helpful links to check out before we go and a basic rundown of our travel itinerary:

Day One

We're leaving our place at 9:00 AM sharp, which is a little better than the 8:00 AM time for Normandy, right?
Our first stop will be the Chateau de Langeais, and then we will be going to Chateau d'Azay-le-rideau doing a sack lunch there and then it's off to spend the night in Tours.

Day Two

First thing on day two we'll head off to the Château de Chenonceau for a self guided tour, and then we're off to Amboise for lunch and to see the Château d'Amboise, this time with our own personal tour guide à la Chartres Cathedral. After that tour, we will be off to see Clos Lucè, which was, hello, the home of Leonardo Da Vinci. How cool is that? After all that, it's back to the bus and off to Blois for dinner and to stay the night.

Day Three

Saturday morning we'll walk to the close by Château de Blois for a tour (avec guide!) and then we'll get back on the rock star bus and we're off to see the Château de Chambord before we head back to Paris!

Seriously. How cool is all that stuff.

It's going to be a fantastic trip, and our last chance to all travel together (sniff, sniff). Can't wait!

À Bientôt!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Finding Your Way Around A Doll's House

So, since we're all just students of French, I thought, oh, I don't know, maybe some of you would like to have a summary of the plot of A Doll's House before we see it transformed into Maison de Poupée by Audrey Tautou. Back in the day, right about the time you were all born, I used to have to buy Cliff's Notes to get a nice, concise summary like this, but luckily we now have Wikipedia. And if you want to get a really detailed overview, check out the Spark Notes. Seriously, with resources like this, I would have graduated college with honors.

No pressure though.

A Doll's House opens as Nora Helmer is telling Helene to hide the Christmas tree. Nora is treated as a silly, childish woman by her husband, Torvald. Her friend Kristine Linde, recently widowed and short of money, has heard about Torvald's recent promotion to head the bank and comes to ask Nora for help in persuading Torvald to give her (Kristine) a job. Nora promises to ask Torvald to give Kristine a position as secretary. Nora confides to Kristine that she once secretly borrowed money from a disgraced lawyer, Nils Krogstad, to save Torvald's life when he was very ill, but she has not told him in order to protect his pride. She then took secret jobs copying papers by hand, which she carried out secretly in her room, and learned to take pride in her ability to earn money "as if she were a man." Torvald's promotion promises to finally liberate her from having to scrimp and save in order to be able to pay off her debt. However, she has continued to play the part of the frivolous, scatter-brained child-wife for the benefit of her husband.

Meanwhile, Dr. Rank, a family friend, flirts with Nora before revealing that he is terminally ill with tuberculosis of the spine (a contemporary euphemism for congenital syphilis), with only a month to live, and that he has been secretly in love with her.

Frightened after being fired by Torvald from his minor position at the bank, Krogstad approaches Nora, declaring he no longer cares about the remaining balance of her loan but will preserve the associated bond in order to blackmail Torvald into not only keeping him employed, but giving him a promotion. Krogstad informs Nora that he has written a letter detailing her crime (forging her father's signature of surety on the bond) and puts it in Torvald's mailbox, which is locked.

Nora tells Kristine of her predicament. Kristine says that she and Krogstad were in love before she married, and promises she will convince him to relent.

Torvald tries to check his mail before he and Nora go to a Boxing Day party, but Nora distracts him by showing him the dance she has been rehearsing for the party. Torvald declares that he will postpone reading his mail until the evening. Alone, Nora contemplates suicide to save her husband from the shame of the revelation of her crime, and more important to pre-empt any gallant gesture on his part to "save" her.

Kristine tells Krogstad that she only married her husband because she had no other means to support her sick mother and young siblings, and that she has returned to offer him her love again. Krogstad is moved and offers to take back his letter to Torvald. However, Kristine decides that Torvald should know the truth for the sake of his and Nora's marriage.

Back from the party, Doctor Rank gives his letters of death to the Helmers, and Nora talks to him as if nothing is going to happen. Torvald goes to check the mail; Nora does everything to stop him but fails. Torvald goes to read his letters and Nora prepares to take her life. Before she has the opportunity, Torvald intercepts her, confronting her with Krogstad's letter. In his rage, he declares that he is now completely in Krogstad's power—he must yield to Krogstad's demands and keep quiet about the whole affair. He berates Nora, calling her a dishonest and immoral woman and telling her she is unfit to raise their children. He says that their marriage will be kept only to maintain appearances.

A maid enters, delivering a letter to Nora. Krogstad has returned the incriminating papers, saying that he regrets his actions. Torvald is jubilant, telling Nora he is saved as he burns the papers. He takes back his harsh words to his wife and tells her that he has forgiven her. He also explains to her that her mistake makes her all the more precious to him because it reveals an adorable helplessness, and that when a man has forgiven his wife it makes him love her all the more since she is the recipient of his generosity.

By now Nora has realized that her husband is not the man she thought he was, and that her whole existence has been a lie. Her fantasy of love is just that—a fantasy. Torvald's love is highly conditional. She has been treated like a plaything, first by her father and then by her husband. She decides that she must leave to find out who she is and what to make of her life. Torvald insists she must fulfill her duty as a wife and mother, but Nora believes she also has duties to herself. From Torvald's reaction to Krogstad's letters, Nora sees that she and Torvald are strangers to each other. When Torvald asks if there is still any chance for them to rebuild their marriage, she replies that it would take "the greatest miracle of all": they would have to change so much that their life together would become a real marriage.

The play ends with Nora leaving, marked by a famous door slam, while Torvald hopefully ponders the possibility of "the greatest miracle of all".

Joyeux Anniversaire Cher Skye!

Be sure to wish Skye a Happy Birthday today!

You only turn 20 in Paris once!

Happy Birthday Skye!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Band of Gold

So, why the so bad it's good 70's Soul Train?

Because today, while walking around the Place de Madeline, Steve was confronted with one of the oldest Paris street scams out there, the "Gold Wedding Ring" scam. Here's how it went down:
Steve was looking around trying to find the street to the Madeline Theater to buy our tickets to "A Doll's House" when a young woman walked up to him with a gold wedding ring and asked him if it was his and if he dropped it. He said no, it wasn't his, and then she proceeded to try to give it to him. He just looked at her, and then said if someone had dropped it they should leave it somewhere so they could find it. He then leaned over to put it in a nearby phone booth, and the woman grabbed it and ran off.


So, what's the scam, you might ask? Well, since we had never been confronted with this one either, we looked it up, and here's the answer. Be sure to read through this and beware of anyone who comes up to you asking if you speak English, the sure sign you're being targeted. Also check out some of the people who've written into Rick Steves' (no, not Steve Ricks') website with the scams they've encountered while traveling in Paris and Europe, it will help you keep your eyes open, and hopefully keep you from being left with "just a band of gold."