Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Once upon a time in a distant land. . .

In a land full of peculiar people, with creatures so cold, and good food so scarce, I lived and it was awesome! My dear reader, it has been well over two months since my last entry and a variety of events have transpired. Where to begin, I know not. Just shortly (or sometime around then) after my last entry three more “Spaniards” arrived. By Spaniards, I mean Spanish-speakers but in all truth they are proud to come from Basque country (but their passports identify them as coming from Spain jeje ;)). I like to identify them as Spaniards just for fun because they always retaliate and state that they’re Basque. Anyways, Inigo, Elene, and Garazi L arrived and Clermont has not been the same since. Something funny is that Gara tried to give me the nickname of Bugs Bunny because I would eat carrots after French class, but to her surprise I turned it around and since then I call her Bugs. Truth be told, it fits her better because she does kind of look like Bugs :)--front teeth, hair, funny looking ears jaja. As for me, the only nickname that has stuck to me is Chikis (Chikistrikis :)) and that was given to me by Triple Ace—Adriana, Aida, Ade. As I see it overall, the great Clermont-Ferrand has been better than sitting back and watching the best good movie. In reality I am living a movie. At times I have been a spectator and at other times a participant, but mostly a spectator. The stuff that goes on here is full of drama, lust, alcohol, tears, laughs, love. . . okay not love because there’s no love in Clermont; there are protagonists, dancers, prancers, chefs, drunkards, villains, inamoratos, entertainers. . . in short, a little bit of everything. Life is quite an adventure. Other than the little schooling that I receive out here, life is full of good times. There have been great salsa nights, karaoke, birthdays (Ade and J.Lo), tons of parties that all seem to blend into one, competitions, and even a Gala event. Some nights will always remain as unforgettable, other nights are better off forgotten, and yet other night can’t even be remembered :). My Italian friend Rikki has challenged me to a series of competitions and he hasn’t won any. To name a few, I out-run him, out-eat him. . . and yea, so far so good. Some time ago the school had international week and I represented, with colors, US but I stayed with the Mexico booth since I am always with my Mexican friends. That night Mexico won some prizes for having the best environment/atmosphere, but it’s only because I was dancing haha jk. Oh and I cannot forget to mention that just over a week ago I injured Ricardo wrestling.

Other than crazy stuff, I live my adventures by traveling. Since my last update, I have been to Vichy, Toulouse, and Milan, Italy. Italy will remain as a unique trip. I went there with three Italian friends and J.Lo. Jose Luis and I stayed at Rikki’s house. Food was delicious, pizza and pasta was tasty, the people friendly, and the ladies :). For spring break, which was in mid-April I went to Eastern Europe with Ade, Celeste, Elene, Diana, and J.Lo. We took a mini tour of eastern Europe and we went to Vienna, Bratislava, Budapest, Prague, but we only went to Prague accidentally. I decided to travel even though I didn’t have my long-stay visa for France, which is needed when you have been in France for more than three months. In all honesty, I was quite sure I wouldn’t have a problem leaving the France airport but, if anything, I would have a problem coming back into France. Since everything always works out for me, that one volcano with the crazy name erupted, our flight was canceled, we visited Prague, and we took a bus from Budapest to Prague and from Prague to Paris. For some odd reason, I never worry and never stress out about anything. . . sometimes I wish I did, at least a little bit.

Well, here I am enjoying my last month in France and in Europe. I was scheduled to leave May 26th but I decided to extend until June 15th because Gara offered to take me on a tour of Spain. That will be in June, but before then in two weeks when exams and classes are over I will be taking with some friends a tour of southern France. We plan on visiting Montpellier, Marseille, Cannes, Nice, Saint Tropez, and Monaco. I have much to do but here I am finally updating you, my reader. For some odd reason, I have developed some sort of insomnia. I don’t know why but there are days when I only sleep three or four hours but then again that could be due to the fact that I’m going to sleep when the sun is rising. My 5 month vacations will soon be over. . . did I say vacations, because I definitely meant to say my 5 month study abroad. What adventures (where and with who too) await for me this last month, only time will tell.

As I like to think., I’m a big fish in small town. I have learned to love and care for my friends at Clermont Ferrand and just like in the mission soon I will taste the bitter sweet. . . sweet because I look forward to being with family and friends, and bitter because only time will tell if I will ever meet again the great friends I have made whilst at Clermont

Monday, February 22, 2010

A plethora of thoughts

This might be a bunch of random stuff with some France update as well. First, if you’re not in for a good read might as well stop before beginning. . . by good I don’t mean good but rather lengthy. Next, let me just put it out there that I figured out that all my necessities start with F. I call them the four F’s of my life. In some sort of order I would arrange them as follows: family, faith, finance and food. Oh and I forgot fsleep haha. I’m sure to be happy anywhere with my four F’s :). And yes, I am aware that I forgot other F’s that I can include but this list is enough for me. I mention this part because I miss family, friends, and I simply miss you!

Okay, so I don’t know if it’s because I am not working or whatnot (or maybe because I have had 2.5 weeks of vacations) but I feel like a generation X child out here. Perhaps, this is because I am used to working, studying, and playing all in one day. Out here it’s more like party, sleep, and eat, with a little of school here and there. I’m not gonna lie, school is pretty easy out here. Maybe it’s a combination of things that have made me feel “the entitlement mentality,” which I truly believe I have avoided so far in my life. I like work and then spend; here, I only spend. For me life has consisted of working hard, keeping my ambitions high, my determination set and getting what I want. The key to achieving anything for me has been working hard. The more I think out here, the more I realize I want to take shortcuts in as many things as I can. I then realize that if I take shortcuts, I will not reap the experiences and results that only an arduous journey brings. I am realizing that there are no shortcuts, only shortened results with which I can end up satisfied with because I might not know anything better.

Anyways, I am surprised by the extent that American culture has permeated throughout Europe in everything from music to TV to fashion and more. I guess I can now go watch CSI in French :). When I went to Mexico I thought that American culture was strong in similar aspects but because US and Mexico are neighboring countries.

On another note, I finally found my niche. In the grand, small town of Clermont-Ferrand there is a place to dance salsa and some bachata and reggaeton. We all know how happy this makes me. This will help me to relax and to dance off my worries. Well, as I mentioned, I had 2.5 weeks off school so my time off consisted of a trip to Paris, lots of parties, and a road trip to Switzerland, Strasbourg, and Luxembourg. I must say that I feel like I need a break from my vacations because I get so sleep deprived during vacations haha.

Viva las Paris! My trip to Paris was a blast and I couldn’t go with better company (since they knew where to go, what to do :)). To Paris I went with triple Ace, which consisted of Ade, Aida and Adriana. Turker, a friend from Cypress also came with. The trip was a blast and I had tons of fun because I went with people who are tons of fun. I visited most of the historic and tourist places such as the Eiffel Tower, Louvre, Sacre Coeur, Notre Dame, Versailles Castle, and many many other places. Even though pictures say a lot, what my eyes have seen cannot be limited to words or pictures. . . so much history, symbolism and beauty. Something interesting that happened while at Paris was that whilst we were walking to the Arc de Triumph, we ran into a red carpet opening by Mel Gibson. Aida got three autographs, of which I think she gave me one (if not I simply stole it haha). I only got a short video of Mel walking down the red carpet. We also went to a nightclub to dance and the best part, which was only slightly good, was the fact that the DJ had an international playlist. That inspired me to begin my own international music playlist. But before dancing the night away, we ate some fine French cuisine and overall the night turned out to be a blast. The whole trip to Paris was 4 days and 3 nights. Enough to wear me out, but not enough to see all of Paris.

After Paris, my next week was off. I only enjoyed movies, sleeping in and lots of parties. Crazy French people party Wednesdays and Thursdays in spite of having classes every day. The best party of that week was Turker’s birthday party. From what I remember hahaha, that party will remain, as J.Lo would say, legend. . . wait for it. . . dary!

Finally, this past week was the official winter break. Who would’ve thunk, winter break in mid Febraury (and I am aware that thunk is not a word). From February 15 to February 20, Jose Luis (aka J.lo; Mexican), Cristina (aka Kristy, Spaniard), and Andrew (aka che Andrew, Columbian), we rented a car and went to Switzerland, France, and Luxembourg in that order. The week and trip turned out awesome and tons of fun; however, by Saturday when we came back we were all tired, broke, hungry, cold, but full of good times! In Zurich, life is cold and expensive. That’s what I learned from there. But we had a good hike and saw a lot of the city. After Zurich, we drove to Strasbourg. In Strasbourg, we visited an ancient Cathedral, went to the top of the Cathedral, visited EU office buildings, and did much more. One night we had a nice dinner with Bebe, a friend from school who is from Strasbourg, and at dinner “someone” (not me) threw up because they “drank a little bit too much.” How I see it, it was some expensive throwing up. 15 Euros per throw up since dinner was 30. Oh in Strasbourg I found some good pics for the fail blog: a bathroom sign and a statue. In Strasbourg we also visited a castle and drove through wine towns for “degustation” (meaning samples), but not to worry because I was the designated drunk driver haha jk. Finally, on Friday morning we drove two hours to go to Luxembourg. I must say that it is a unique and beautiful place. There, we had a great city tour, went to a sick (top notch) museum, enjoyed amazing landscape, explored, and ate pizza :). Of course, I was a great co-pilote who never got us lost. Oh in Luxembourg, I don’t know if it was because of so much walking or because of the cold weather but I would get the munchies like crazy and very hungry. My good friend Kristy compared me to a one-minded creature when I’m hungry—all I can think of is food until I get it hahaha. So true. I can’t think clearly until I’m fed. Feed me! The road trip will definitely remain legend. . . wait for it. . . dary!

Finally, I can say that I have classes in 6 hours and I say it in a happy way. I never thought I would be happy for classes but after 2.5 weeks of break, parties, and so much vacation, I definitely need a break from my vacations. To my anonymous reader, I must say that if you endured this lengthy reading, you ought to have something to comment. I’m just kidding, as you should all know, I’m just a little bit crazy, but then again who isn’t. Be happy, smile and remember to be grateful for all you have. Evil prevails when good man fail to act! I don’t know what I’m saying anymore; I am tired, a bit sick, and a bit restless.

Until next time!

Friday, January 22, 2010

No contaban con mi astucia

Well, it’s been a few days since I updated so I feel like so much has happened since the last time. Don’t worry you won’t get the full scoop lol. Where to begin? I have made a list of things that I need to get done and I have crossed out a handful out of the 19, so I’m making progress and mostly procrastinating. Oh first of all, because the French school system is weird I have a week and a half off school. Life is just wonderful! The first week started with an intensive course that only went for a week, from Monday to Friday from 8:30 to 4:45 with some breaks in between. This past week, the semester long courses began. Since BYU worries that international students might be overloaded I’m only signed up for three other courses—International Business, Organizational theory, and French. So the semester will be easy, but I will have another intensive course. I enjoy the courses much because I have good classmates like Brazilians (Rafael and Sarah), Mexicanas (like Adriana), German (Olga, with whom I’ve had several courses), and many more friends and French students ☺.

On another topic, a week or so ago I went to buy groceries and I made a fool out of myself. To not share my embarrassing moments in too much detail, suffice it to say that I held up the line for a good 10 minutes because I didn’t know what I was doing. I never knew buying grapes could be so difficult. I felt so stooopid. On that note, some other things I have done that I’ve hated are opening a bank account, laundry (like always) and buying power adapters. I never imagined it could take over 2 weeks to set up and open a bank account. Fill this out, send this in, get this mail, stop by the bank for some more crap, and so on and so on; in other words, less effective. Another thing that has been a hassle is setting up internet in my room. Holy freaking crap! I still don’t have it set up. I’ll just leave it at that. Since power outlets are different, I need adapters and that whole thing has been a mess. I’ve spent well over $30 buying worthless adapters. I even bought an iron out here, with French power outlet, but not even that is compatible with the room outlets. Wtf, I wear wrinkly clothes now ☺.

So a week ago, a group of international students went to velvet, a small dance club (and from the two that I’ve been to they have both been small) and no one was dancing. Okay, truth be told, there were about a handful of people dancing. Needless to say, upon arriving the party started. . . and then someone had to call 911 because there was shawty fire burning on the dance floor, like the Mexicans lol :0). We started the dancing and then everyone danced. Hell of a night.

This past Sunday I went to church for the first time because last Sunday I didn’t know where it was. Online the site info said it started at 11. Well, I walked for 40 minutes, (I only planned on walking 20) so I got there for the last 30 minutes. Apparently church started at 9:30. Nothing better than a dumb foreigner walking in late for the last 30 minutes. A good thing is that everyone speaks slowly so I can understand a lot. I’m in a small branch with about 50 members. Reminds me of my last mission branch in size. Later that day, I took a nap and went to a Sunday potluck at the Mexicanas. I will post pics. It was interesting to see how the potluck became a crazy, ethnic dance party. Because we’re (the group that hangs out together) mostly international students, everyone displayed ethnic dances—Mexican, Salsa ☺, Italian, Greek, Polish, French, Brazilian and more. It was loads of fun and I took plenty of pics to capture the dances. At the end everyone wanted me to dance so I stripped danced for everyone. Somehow a pole appeared in the middle of the Mexican’s apartment and voila, I became a stripper. . . hahah just kidding. But everyone did want me do show my interpretation of different dancing styles, mostly for reggaeton.

So I almost forgot, something completely weird to me is that bathrooms are shared. Yea can you believe that? I’m in one stall and a girl in the one next to me. Wtf. . .oh and so the shared bathrooms at the dorms where I live, gosh, smell at times worst than the zoo. Holy freak, worst than the zoo, I said! But on a good note, the weather has been around the 40’s, the snow is gone, and life is great.

My dear reader, that’s all for now! Be happy, smile, and remember that I’m watching you ;)

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Adventures of Jared in Frenchland

Bonjour! I don’t know who will read this but if you are reading this I will know that you read this. Right now, it’s 2 am and I cannot sleep. Wonderful! My body’s internal clock is still in Chicago time, where it is 7 pm. Oh and it’s Saturday night. I am doing my best to adjust. I still get hungry at noon (France time) though which is kind of weird because that is 5 am Chicago time. Weird. Well, as I said, I don’t know who will read this but I write to remember some of the adventures that take place in French land and to share my stories with you. Yes, you! It’s the simplest way for my thousands of fans to hear about me in France.

Okay, so I left Chicago sleep deprived because I planned on sleeping all 2.5 hours from Chicago to NYC and all 7.5 hours from NYC to Paris. To my surprise, I feel asleep before the plane took off from Chicago. Actually, not much of a surprise because I’m a good sleeper J. I woke up within 30 minutes because a little, brown, chubby girl of about the age of 12 who was next to me keep coughing. I then fell asleep again and I woke up about 30 minutes later. There’s nothing better than to wake up to a wet @*$. Yea, the girl who was next to me was, apparently, chugging her coke and she coughed it all out. Most of my butt got wet. So I had a pleasant ride with a wet butt. Fun!

The trip to Paris was normal. I couldn’t really sleep much. Upon getting to Paris, I walked forever to find the train station. I then took a 5 hour ride train. By then, I was so sleep deprived that I was jumpy. I made two good friends, who I will never see again, in my train ride—a high school boy and a girl who was going to Clermont-Ferrand to visit her boyfriend. We laughed, we ate, we argued. I argued that bigger is better and they would argue that smaller is cuter. Who is right??? Obviously me!

I then arrived at the Clermont train station where less people speak English. I was only able to arrive to Clermont because I would ask everyone in Paris and Lyon, “parlez-vous anglais?” If they did, which luckily I met the nicest people, they went the extra-mile just to help me. At the train station, I ate a sandwich. Wow, that’s when I realized how smaller is cuter. I got about a 9 inch loaf with cheese, one slice of ham, and some cream for 6.5 . I’m used to eating a foot-long from Subway with double meat. Maybe this is good to loose weight. That’s all I ate that day. From the Clermont train station, I took a taxi to my apartment where no one spoke Anglais. I checked in somehow and I was in a 12 hour coma. I was out. Because I didn’t have an alarm, I missed my 9 am tour with the other international students. I got ready and took the tram (local town train) for free because I didn’t know how to buy a freaking ticket. School is 25 minute walk and in the snow and cold weather it feels longer than that. Well, I finally got to school, got tons of papers, had a mini tour with two girls from Finland who were also late. For lunch, we met the rest of the students. Since then, I’ve made some great friends. Wiam is a girl from Morocco who showed me the city and has taken me shopping. There are also 7 or 8 students from el Tec de Monterrey so I speak a lot of Spanish. We’ve hung out the past two nights and that brings me to where I am.

I think I got bored writing this. I’m not good with this stuff so if this is my last entry I apologize in advance. Other than that, my dorm is. . . yea, something else. It’s tiny, empty, and crazy. I live in student dorms. Everything is shared. Craziness.

I have learned French people can be weird. They simply don’t do some things without logical explanation. Lines at stores and groceries are never ending. After waiting in line for hours I am ready to kill myself. The pace of life is too slow for me. Today I wanted to exchange dollars for Euros and the bank guy told me (not me but Wiam who helps me) that they only do that in the mornings. Wtf? Why only mornings? So weird. There’s tons of stuff like that that simply drives me nuts. Oh I also walk tons. I walk in slush so it’s nasty and I know that it’s only a matter of time before I fall, which is gonna suck.

Well, this is all for now. I’m sure I’ll write in a week or two again. Monday I begin my International Finance Intensif. Classes will be Monday to Friday from 8:30 to 5:00 with homework to do afterwards. Time to sleep. Au revoir!