Everywhere But Home

News and musings from wherever my crazy life takes me. My body may be back in Illinois, but at least for now, my mind is still in Mongolia.

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We interrupt the promised programming to bring you…

… a summary of my stay of Europe (thus far) in glace.

As previously explained, Europeans have different taste in, well, just about everything, and this includes ice cream. They tend toward fruit flavors, which are almost exclusively sorbets, and which are distinct from crème glacée. And they like different fruit flavors, too.

Since my arrival in France, I have tasted:

  • Chocolat noir (Côte d’Or makes a spectacular one with choclate that’s 70% cocoa)
  • Pistache
  • Banane
  • Cérise griotte (cherry)
  • Abricot (it’s a shame they don’t make apricot sorbet in America, because it is delicious)
  • Cassis (black currant, a local specialty. I’ve also had crème de cassis, moûtarde de cassis, confiture de cassis… it’s everywhere, and it’s wonderful).
  • Noix de coco (coconut)
  • Fraise (strawberry)
  • Frambroise (raspberry)
  • Poire
  • Rubarb
  • Orange sanguine (blood orange)
  • Mangue
  • Pêche de vigne (literally translates as “peach of the vine,” but it’s pink, so I think it’s plum)
  • Pain d’épices (gingerbread of sorts, another local specialty)
  • Abricot roumarin (apricot with rosemary; only had a few licks of someone else’s, but it was interesing)
  • Citron basilic (lemon and basil; very refreshing at first, but the basil got to be a little overpowering)
  • Mangue épicé (spiced mango. Mostly mango, not much spice that I could decipher)
  • Fraises à la provençale (strawberry with olive oil, mint, and basil. Bizarre but wonderful)

On the list of flavors yet to try: groseille (red currant), pomme vert (green apple), caramel au beurre salé, and possibly frambroise violet or miel pignons (honey and pine nuts). The place with all the really interesting flavors also has pamplemousse rose, but I’m not sure if that’s pink grapefruit or grapefruit and rose.

I realize that that’s an awfully long list, but I have been here almost six weeks. Plus it’s hot and Europe doesn’t have air conditioning. So we have to cool off somehow. And this is the most delicious way to do it.

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Blogging Backlog

So it has come to my attention that I haven’t blogged in quite a while. The homework load here is fairly intense (I’m taking 9 credit hours… not the best decision on my part!) and we have required or recommended excursions on a regular basis. So I have a lot of things to write about that I haven’t had time to record.

Unfortunately, I don’t have time today either.

Sometime in the near future, expect details about the following:

  • Our trip to Geneva, including hiking on a mountain, my continued obsession with European churches, antics with a stuffed marmot, RIDICULOUS prices, and our stay in the red light district
  • Our final excursion to Bussy-Rabutin and the Abbaye de Fontenay
  • My trip to Paris with Kimmy and our adventures with blues dancing, aching feet, British tourists in an ENORMOUS cemetery, and various cathedrals
  • Our excursion to Vézélay, with its gorgeous vista and still-running abbey

In the meantime, I have places to go, homework to do, and souvenirs to purchase. If you want something that a) is reasonably priced and b) I can feasibly take home (I don’t exactly have much room in my suitcase), let me know and I’ll see what I can do.

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French Innuendo and Vulgarity 101: Things Not to Say Unless You Really Mean Them

In case any of you ever go to France, here is a list of thing of which you should probably take note. Some of these blunders have actually been made by people I know personally; others, I’ve just heard about elsewhere. Regardless of where/how I learned it, here is a handy-dandy list of things to bear in mind.

  • “Hot” and “cold” have the same sexual connotations in French as in English if you use them with être. To say “I’m hot,” as in “I’m sweating profusely and would love to sit in a building with A/C… except it doesn’t exist in France,” it’s j’ai chaud. Similarly, j’ai froid means “I could really do with one of those scarves you sell everywhere in France.” By contrast, je suis chaud means “I’m horny,” while je suis froid means “I have no sex drive.” Or “I’m dead.” Take your pick.
  • You can turn some French verbs into nouns and vice versa quite appropriately; others you cannot. Un baiser is a kiss, but if you try to make it into a verb, it means something quite vulgar.
  • Pronunciation matters. A brasserie is a bar; a brassière is a bra. Beaucoup (a lot) and canard (duck) can quickly become “nice a**” and “a**hole,” respectively, if you’re not careful.
  • There’s a good chance that any word beginning with “chi” is a reference to sh*t.
  • Everyone knows someone who tried to say “I’m embarrassed” in Spanish class and ended up announcing that they were pregnant, right? Some equivalent French scenarios:
  • Jam = confiture. While jam, jelly, and preserves are basically the same thing to most Americans, note: preservatif means “condom.” NOT jam.
  • If you are enthusiastic, thrilled, or delighted by something, say that you are impassioné(e)Je suis excité(e) is not the kind of announcement you make in public.
  • So you’re on your way somewhere and will be there shortly? Then use arriver. Sure, je viens translates as “I’m coming,” but it’s got a dirty meaning in French too.

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Random Thoughts

I should probably be doing homework at the moment, but I’m in desperate need of sleep and can’t really think straight at the moment. Not to mention that my thoughts are starting to come out in bizarre multilingual constructions (no specific examples come to mind at the moment, but it’s usually English structure and nouns with French verbs and prepositions). So here, in no particular order, is a bit of what’s buzzing around in my head:

  • I need to track down a broom. My floor is dirty and my room is a lot messier than you’d think possible based on the amount of stuff I have with me.
  • I was told by two different people today that my French isn’t very good. That was kind of depressing.
  • At least the waiter was kind enough to phrase it, “Je vois que vous n’êtes pas de la région, donc je parlerai doucement,” (I see you’re from this region, so I will speak slowly) instead of “you’re an American.”
  • I still haven’t figured out how to take the “American” sticker off my forehead. Maybe by the end of our six weeks here?
  • I used the word “effrayant” in a sentence last week, only to be told it wasn’t a word. Au contrair, brought to you compliments of Word Reference:

effrayant~e /efʀɛjɑ̃/ /ɑ̃t/
adjective[sight, ugliness] frightening;
[thinness, paleness] dreadful.

  • So there.
  • I really wish we could adjust the shower temperature. Or that we were allowed to shower after 11 pm. Because now it’s 11:22 and I want to take a shower, please.
  • We went to a wine tasting in Beaune last Friday that really deserves its own post when I have the time/energy/brainpower to devote to it.
  • I also really wish that the windows had screens so that I cold study with the window open at night. It gets kinda hot in here with the window closed, but if I open it I will be swarmed by little reddish-brown gnat-like things. Most pleasant.
  • Apparently, I work more efficiently when my room is clean. And cleaning helps to get me in the mood to work. Especially if it is accomplished by dancing around my room to blues music.
  • One of these days I will leave my door open while cleaning my room so that people can see me dancing. I want to see their reactions.
  • Except not Babo’s. The guy in the room next store has told me that I’m nice and that I’m pretty in the two or three conversations we’ve had. They’re really awkward because he’s from Guinea and his accent is very different, so I have to ask him to repeat everything two or three or four times.
  • I really ought to buy that dress I found at the market. One, so I can wear it and tell people I bought it in France if they ask; two, because it’s pretty; three, because it’s cheap (20E); four, because the euro’s down to $1.19. Thank you, Greece!
  • Bread + noir pâté à tartiner (dark chocolate spread; like nutella, but darker and without the hazelnuts) + confiture de cassis (black currant jam) = a little slice of heaven.

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le 3 juin: An Absolutely Marvelous Day

Robbie and I recently discovered that we both fairly active (and cheapskates to boot), and thus would rather walk most places than take the bus, so we walked into town together this morning. Though, of course, we had to get breakfast first. We did so in the French manner: stopping at the local boulangerie for a pastry. This time I tried a beignet pomme, which was rather like a donut with applesauce in the middle. Not bad, but not my favorite. That honor (so far) goes to what is alternately called an oreillette or a croissant abricot – it’s something like croissant dough with lemon curd in the middle and half an apricot at either end. Delicious. Croissant amand are not to be scoffed at either, though the best ones I’ve had are sadly at the other town. These are croissants containing chocolate and slivered almonds and dusted with powdered sugar. Now that, my friends, is a good breakfast! Cheap, too: prices typically range from 80 centimes for a basic croissant to 1E40 for a fancier pastry.

Class met at Notre-Dame de Dijon and then continued on to La Musée des Beaux Arts, so we got to spend class standing in front of the works we were discussing, rather than looking at bad photocopies of black-and-white pictures. It was really nice. I’m finally starting to learn the French terms for different aspects of Gothic architecture, which makes it MUCH easier to talk about what I’m seeing. And it’s nice not to have to say, “uh… um.. un…” while I look for a way to circumlocute.

Best of all, it was over at noon, and then we were free for the day! So we met up with the people who weren’t in the art and architecture class and all went out to lunch. We found a very nice Italian place near Les Halles, though I don’t remember what it was called. In any case, the service was great (and very friendly), the pesto pasta was marvelous, and the prices were fairly reasonable, if on the higher side of mid-priced.

We split up again after lunch, and Robbie and I headed over to the planetarium and botanic gardens. Well, the gardens were something of an afterthought, but they took precedence once we got there. It was a beautiful sunny day, not too hot so we wandered the gardens for a while. There was a quiet pond and stream down the middle, which played host to a number of ducks. The shade provided by a number of bushes and a couple of truly enormous sycamores (the trunks are probably a good five feet across!) made it lovely and green and cool.

Most of all, I think, we enjoyed the rose garden. It seemed to be past the season for roses, as most of them were past their prime, but I think I still got some good pictures. I’ll post one here; the rest should be on facebook shortly.

The planetarium was cool, but nothing particularly spectacularly. About half of it was devoted to a special temporary exhibit entitled “Lune et l’Autre,[1]” and the other half featured a good deal of geology. The fluorescent rocks were pretty cool, I have to say.

We sat down by the duck pond for a few minutes before heading back, because it’s at least a 40-minute walk back to the dorms, and we were both in the mood for a nap. Robbie discovered that the raspberries he had purchased from a stand after lunch had gotten a bit smushed, so he ate them while we sat (and I helped, a bit). “C’est la bonne vie,” I said. “Manger les framboises and regarder les canards.[2]

We stopped for ice cream on the way back; there’s a place across the street from the ever-popular Fnac (think French Barnes and Noble) with some truly wondrous sorbets. I’ve never had apricot sorbet before, but it was marvelous: sweet and tart and not a bit artificial. The place has 24 flavors, and I strongly suspect I will end up trying them all before we leave. I’m already plotting out combinations that sound good together: strawberry and rhubarb, green apple and caramel, mango and banana… and probably red and black current together, so I can compare the two. Reasonably priced too: one scoop for 2E, 2 scoops for 3E. Not cheap, but not bad. And well worth it for the quality.

[1] For you non-francophones, it’s a pun; “l’un et l’autre” means “one and the other”

[2] “This is the good life… to eat raspberries and watch the ducks.” It sounded more intelligent at the time.

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… pertaining to Pavillon Macard des Résidences Mansart, l’Université de Bourgogne:

  1. Why can’t Miami have these kinds of locks, with which you must insert the key from outside (or turn a bolt from the inside) of the door, thus making it impossible for you to lock yourself out?
  2. Why don’t the doors have peepholes?
  3. Why do we have to bring our own toilet paper to the bathrooms?
  4. Why can’t we take showers after 11 pm?
  5. Why have I been logged off of the WiFi four times in the past few hours?
  6. Why is there a McDonald’s within easy walking distances, but no real cafés?
  7. Why do all the sandwiches in the vending machine contain mayonnaise?
  8. Why do the Americans have a reputation for being loud and obnoxious when the the people running through the quad shrieking last night (at midnight) were very clearly French?
  9. Why have college-aged boys not yet learned to go to the bathroom without getting pee all over the toilet and the floor?